michael-garcia - August 11, 2012
Finally the Dwightmare is over! But the nightmare is just beginning for nearly every other team in the NBA. Dwight Howard going to the Los Angeles Lakers puts them as not only the Western Conference favorites, but probably the favorites to win the NBA title next June.
Before I get into the four reasons, the mind boggling part of all of this is that the Lakers managed to hold onto to Pau Gasol in the deal, even though the initial reports said he'd be gone. How the Magic allowed that to happen is beyond reason, and sorry Orlando fans, you have nothing to look forward to this season or any time in the near future.
1) The Pick and Roll
Howard happens to be really good at the pick and roll. Guess who happens to be one of the best pick and roll point guards in the NBA; new Laker Steve Nash. The pairing of Nash and Howard doing the pick and roll is going to be a poison pill for their opponents. Not only is the play hard to defend for most teams anyway, now it will also open up the floor for Kobe Bryant and Gasol.
The Lakers were already a good defense, 15th in the league in points allowed and 9th in field goal percentage, holding teams to a .437 shooting percentage. Now they're going to be even stingier. The questions about Nash being a defensive liability will still be valid, but with Howard backing him and the rest of the team up, a lot of flaws can be covered up. In fact, the Lakers can be more aggressive on the perimeter with Dwight in the paint.
3) Kobe will be fresher
Kobe is 33-years-old but has the legs of a 40-year-old thanks to 220 career playoff games, and summers with Team USA. He's a phenomenal athlete in great shape, but he's got tired legs. But now he won't have to carry the load every possession, thanks to having a true point guard finally in Nash, and a front court that can score more consistently. A fresher Kobe means he can pick his spots to attack more.
4) Kobe wants to be like Mike
Make no mistake, Kobe being okay with all of this is the key to it all working out. It's still Kobe's team, but he's going to have to relinquish some part of it to make the machine run well. At this point in his career, sitting on five championships and wanting at least one more to tie Michael Jordan's six, I'd bet Bryant is more than willing to accept a few less touches per game to get that next ring.
You can't buy team chemistry, but more and more these days guys in the NBA (even the biggest stars), seem more willing to become pseudo role players in order to get a shot at an NBA Championship. Too bad that Championship is going to be in Los Angeles next year.