Los Angeles is already looking to replace DeMarcus Cousins, as the big man tore his ACL in an offseason workout earlier this week and will likely miss all of 2019-20.
A Sunday report from The Athletic stated Grizzlies center Dwight Howard could be one of the Lakers’ top targets.
Although some think Howard’s days as a valuable contributor in the NBA are winding down, he still brings some good things to the table.
Here are three reasons the Lakers should go after Howard:
Winning the battle on the boards will never stop being important in the NBA, and Howard has continued to be one of the league’s more consistent rebounders throughout his professional career.
Howard has only averaged less than 10 rebounds per game in one season in his 15-year career so far. The only time he dropped below that mark was in 2018-19, but should we really count that? He battled health issues the entire year and only appeared in nine games. A sample size that small doesn’t provide enough information on his ability.
Basketball fans seem to have forgotten Howard’s rebirth in Charlotte during the 2017-18 season. The big man averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 points per contest in his lone season with the team and proved he could still be serviceable.
The Lakers raked sixth in rebounds per game (46.6) in 2018-19 and Howard’s presence in the post could move them up in that department and create more opportunities for second-chance points
It’s no secret that new Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is regarded as one of the NBA’s better defensive strategists, and the addition of Howard — a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year — would give him an abundance of rim protectors.
Anthony Davis has led the NBA in blocks three times at age 26, while Howard accomplished the feat twice himself in his younger days. Although Howard has slowed down some in recent years, he’s still has a career average of 2.0 blocks per game.
Then there’s JaVale McGee, who proved he can be a quality stopper on the block against starting units all last year.
These three have a mix of length, athleticism and instinct that will make opposing players second-guess themselves when trying to finish down low.
Los Angeles got a bargain when it signed a four-time All-Star in Cousins to a one-year, $3.5 million deal this summer. He never quite got back into tip-top shape after he was sidelined by an Achilles injury in 2017-18, but buying in when most were low on him still allowed the Lakers to put together what was thought to be the best starting lineup in the NBA for a time.
Now the Lakers have a chance to do the same with Howard.
Howard is in the final season of a two-year, $11 million deal but Memphis could buy out his contract if it can’t get any desirable offers for him. The market may be reluctant to give Howard much, but he’s easily more productive than the starting centers the Lakers have played in recent years.
Los Angeles should expect a double-double at the very least if Howard gets 25 minutes a night and stays healthy. If that doesn’t make him worth the risk, we don’t know what is.