The Horror

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I hate to write this post before the trade is official, but the tide will sweep right by if I don’t, and Kunu can’t ride after the wave has passed. That’s a little fake surf wisdom for you from my fake
Maori roots.

According to ESPN.com reports, Mitch Kupcheck has found a way to add Dwight Howard without
losing Pau Gasol. Let me rephrase that. The LA Lakers will be starting a twin towers lineup
consisting of Dwight “The best defensive center in the league” Howard and Pau “The best
offensive center in the league” Gasol.

I’ll just wait for the horror to creep into your bones. Waiting… waiting… Not there yet? How’s
about I remind you that the LA Lakers will be starting a hall of fame backcourt of Steve “The best
playmaker in the game” Nash and Kobe “The best isolation scorer in the league” Bryant? There
we go. That got the adrenals fired up.

On the surface this doesn’t sound like that big a change for a team that was already going to
start Pau and Andrew Bynum, but there’s a significant difference in the ways Bynum and Howard
influence a game.

Dwight is a very effective offensive player working off pick and rolls, in the low block with a
couple reliable go-to moves, and cleaning up the offensive glass. However, Howard’s biggest
contribution is on the defensive end where he’s a one-man wall around the basket. Nobody’s
mere presence has served as such a paint deterrent since Mutombo was in his prime. Howard
can fail to score in double digits and still dominate.

Bynum’s size and athleticism also help on the defensive end, but he lacks Howard’s instincts and
quickness. Drew is a very efficient, multitalented low post scorer. He has great size and great
hands, and he can get a shot over just about anybody. He can also work a pick and pop with
decent range.

What makes this such a significant upgrade for the Lakers is the fact that Pau is staying with the
team. Pau duplicates a lot of the things that Bynum does. He’s even more skilled around the rim.
He has even more range on his shot. He’s even better at catching the ball on the move. Moving
Bynum out may allow Pau to return to his form 2009-2010 championship form.

Just how impactful the changes LA has made will be determined by how Coach Brown integrates
the two new starters. Ideally Steve Nash would be the most ball-dominant player on the team,
controlling the flow of the game, running pick and roll plays, and probing the defense with the
dribble. Meanwhile Kobe can work away from the ball, running the court in transition, moving off
screens, setting up in the short corner or pinch post for his post up game, and generally getting
himself in good scoring position without the ball. Pau can work the mid and low post, work screen
and rolls with Nash, and use his passing to play a high-low game with Dwight. Howard can also
work screen and rolls, take his turn in the low post, and decimate teams on the offensive glass off
the weak side when the play is to Pau or Bryant.

The worry for Lakers’ fans of course is that Kobe won’t be willing to let Nash control the ball as
much as necessary and that Dwight will not be willing to share the low post with Gasol. Super-
star players do get used to a certain number of touches per game, and it’s possible that rhythms
could be disrupted by sticking these four on one team. Pau seemed to be off his game last year
when Bynum became the focus as the second scorer behind Kobe, and it could happen again.

The potential for complete dominance is very high though. Given that Nash and Dwight can
both be hugely impactful with limited shot attempts sets the potential of this group directly off the
charts.

Let the horror settle in. Embrace the fear.

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6 Responses to “The Horror”

  1. pmadavi Says:

    How long does this last? At what point does Howard botch everything up by asking why he’s not getting shots, or looks in crunch time? He had a point when he was saying it in Orlando. His job here is basically to screen, roll, rebound, and defend. There’s no need for him to take more than 8 shot attempts, not including offensive rebound put backs.

  2. jpalumbo Says:

    Shaq just said Dwight needs to put up 20 and 15 for this team to win multiple titles. That sound like sour grapes to you, or what?

    • pmadavi Says:

      My face puckered just reading that. The trade went official. So now its a reality. Dwight, Pau, Meta, Kobe, and Steve. Yikes!

      • jpalumbo Says:

        Thank all that is holy that they signed Antawn Jamison, too. That ought to hold them back just enough for OKC or Miami to win.

        Jason Palumbo

        Sent from my iPhone

  3. High Above Courtside Says:

    Belated happy 84th birthday to Mr. Basketball, Bob Cousey. One of only 4 men named to the NBA’a all time 25th, 35th, and 50th teams

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