What Pau Gasol Means to Dwight Howard

When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Dwight Howard, the thinking behind the move was that the big man would bring the franchise back to heights that they reached a mere two seasons ago, when they stood at the mountaintop and celebrated their 16th NBA championship.

So far, the team has been mediocre as evidenced by their record (6-6), and that is partly because D12 hasn’t been the dominant player of seasons past.

As he recovers from the back injury that forced him to miss a stretch of the regular season and the whole 2012 playoffs, it’s clear that he does not as of yet have the mobility required to be a defensive force as a help defender.

Consequently, he is often a split-second late in his rotations, and even when he does manage to make it in time to protect the rim, he isn’t covering up the basket area like he did in years prior when teams truly struggled to convert at the rim against him due to his explosiveness when challenging shots.

The scary part of it all for the other teams in the association is that the Lakers are playing .500 basketball despite the fact that they haven’t gotten what they’ve expected from Howard from a defensive standpoint. As his body gets into better shape, so will the purple and gold.

Offensively, though, his production has been on par with what most expect, but he’s still a little different. He still gets those thundering finishes at the rim but doesn’t get off the ground as high as he did when Kenny Smith bestowed the Superman moniker upon him.

And yet, Howard is averaging career highs in field-goal attempts at the rim (7.6 per game according to Hoopdata) and field-goal percentage (61.5 percent).  It’s peculiar in some sense because he is attempting less field goals on average than the last two seasons, but still manages to score just about the same amount of points given his increased efficiency.


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