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NBA Daily: Is Dwight Howard Worth The Risk?

Shane Rhodes writes about whether Dwight Howard is a fit with the Los Angeles Lakers and how both parties will affect one another.

Shane Rhodes

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After a tumultuous summer, the Los Angeles Lakers season was always going to be interesting. Given the roster turnover, it’s hard not to look at their situation with a bit of fascination or skepticism.

But, with the arrival (or, perhaps more appropriately, the return) of Dwight Howard, their season has taken another turn toward the surreal.

In the wake of DeMarcus’ Cousins absence from the team, the Lakers were left a single true center, JaVale McGee, on the roster. Enter Howard, who burned almost every bridge upon his exit from the team in 2013.

Howard, alongside Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, was expected to usher in the next generation of Laker basketball when the team acquired him from the Orlando Magic in August 2012. Instead, ailed by back injuries and stunted by an ever-present animosity between himself and Bryant, the Lakers dove into a spiral that they have yet to recover from (the LeBron James acquisition notwithstanding).

The Dwightmare, as their season came to be known, drove Howard into a funk that, like the Lakers, he has yet to curb. In the six years since, Howard has played with four different teams: the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards and has looked like another player entirely compared to his time in Orlando.

There have been flashes, but Howard has far too often looked like “Stuperman” as opposed to Superman since he left Orlando. So, what, if anything, can Howard offer the Lakers in 2019 and, in the end, will the potential headache even be worth it?

Unfortunately, there are few positives to note of Howard at this point in his career.

Howard’s size on the inside can still affect opposing offenses and, while much of his ability has been sapped by his many back injuries, he can still pose a threat there.

Howard’s ability to rebound has also remained strong. Last season aside, Howard has never averaged fewer than 10 rebounds per game in his career (he averaged 9.2 in just nine games with the Wizards last year).

Anthony Davis’ desire to play fewer minutes at center is understandable, and it would warrant the Lakers’ desire for a paint presence like Howard could provide. Likewise, any team could make use of an extra 10+ rebounds per game.

But, beyond that, there is little else Howard could do for the team, and the risks associated would seem to far outweigh those slight positives. The frenzy alone created by Howard’s arrival, from both the media and fans, should only serve to distract the Lakers as they look to turn their franchise around.

But it could get worse, much worse.

From just a pure basketball standpoint, it’s hard to imagine that Howard would prove a good fit alongside James, Davis and company. Howard, at this point in his career, is obsolete; a big that can’t stretch the floor and doesn’t want to work in the flow of the offense.

Of course, Howard’s approach to the game could change. Were he to buy into a role – one that involved unselfish basketball as opposed to just posting up – he and the Lakers could make it work.

But, at 33 years old, why would anyone expect that sort of change when Howard has shown zero desire to buy into whatever situation he had found himself in previously?

There is also the fact that Howard, from a culture standpoint, has been a welcome departure at nearly every stop in his career.

It would be one thing if Los Angeles had a strong locker room, a team culture that could take Howard in and sustain the shock that would accompany him. But given the facelift the roster has undergone, it’s easy to wonder if their cultural identity and/or foundation is still in flux, ill-prepared to handle such a divisive addition.

And, given the toxicity that James’ presence can generate in the media, adding Howard to the mix may only serve to further poison the well in the Lakers’ worst-case scenario.

A litany of other potential issues could accompany Howard – no one need look further than last season between the Rockets and Carmelo Anthony to see how bad it could end up – and the Lakers are clearly wary given the structure of his non-guaranteed deal.

But Howard, unlike Anthony, should have no shortage of motivation. One would think redemption of perhaps the darkest point in his career would be enough, but could the added motivation that this could be Howard’s last shot do the trick?

Probably not. And, that said, it’s just too hard to imagine Howard making a positive impact for a team that is trying to win games, barring something drastic, in 2019.

He may not blow up in the Lakers’ face as Anthony did the Rockets’, but don’t be surprised should Howard’s second stint in Los Angeles disappoint and flame out quickly.

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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