L.A. Lakers Wise to Play It Safe with Dwight Howard’s Return to Action

No, Dwight Howard isn't the Los Angeles Lakers' best player just yet, but it's hard to argue he's any less important than Kobe Bryant when it comes to this team's title hopes.

Those are the hopes that matter, too, far more so than any eagerness to see the three-time Defensive Player of the Year make L.A. an unstoppable preseason beast. If the front office hadn't already proven as much this summer, the Lakers are no dummies.

The organization knows better than to deploy its most valuable assets at the least important times, so this note from Lakers reporter Mike Trudell shouldn't be too surprising:

Though @dwighthoward continues to improve & look great at practice, he will not play on Saturday vs. Utah.

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 11, 2012 Sure, it wouldn't hurt for Howard to pick up some extra minutes in actual game situations, but there's no question he's been making the most of practice up until now—including five-on-five scrimmages.

There's not a whole lot Howard would take away from that game against the Jazz that he couldn't just as easily glean from practicing against other Lakers.

It should also go without saying that, regardless of how much Howard participates in the preseason, it will take him some time to start playing his best basketball. No matter what happens between now and the end of October, Dwight's going to look a lot better in March than he will in November.

That can't be wished—or practiced—away, and it's as much a function of acclimating to a new roster as it is recovering from back surgery.

So the Lakers aren't "babying" their newest superstar. Holding him out of another preseason game or two isn't a political decision or a business decision. It's a medical one.

It's ultimately not one that Howard or head coach Mike Brown has much say over. The team is ultimately following a timelin...

About the Author