L.A. Lakers: Can Dwight Howard Solve the Team's Point Guard Dilemma?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic reacts in the fourth quarter as he stands in front of Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the 2009 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

If I were a betting man, I would say it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers are stacking all their chips in a potential bid to acquire Dwight Howard as their centerpiece for the future.

But even if the Lakers roll a seven or 11 out of the gate when it comes to Howard, they still won't advance to the NBA Finals in 2012 unless they find a point guard to replace Derek Fisher.

Howard is a dream acquisition for some Lakers fans, but in reality an upgrade at the point guard position is a much more pressing concern, especially since Andrew Bynum has returned from his four-game suspension.

Bynum's presence has solidified the Lakers post game and re-juvenated Pau Gasol, but unfortunately the perimeter game has not received the same type of boost.

Steve Blake has shown some signs of life and was particularly effective in the Lakers 99-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets on New Year's Day with 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. However, Blake is no long-term solution.

At least you can say that Blake deserves to be the conversation for the Lakers first lead guard off the bench, but how in the world can anyone still justify Fisher playing starters' minutes?

In six games Fisher has gone a dismal 1-11 from three point range, and his 5.3 points per game average is actually lower than Blake's 8.3 points per game.

In fact, head coach Mike Brown chose to play Blake at the end of Sunday's loss to the Nuggets, which may be a sign of things to come.

It was clear that Fisher didn't have the quickness to defend Nuggets point guards Ty Lawson and Andre Miller, and while both are decent players, the Lakers will face better opponents. Much better in fact.

It's scary to think about Fisher being tasked with guarding Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul or any of the west's other elite point guards, and it's likely Blake wouldn't fare much better.

But if the Lakers do decide pull the trigger on a trade for Howard, making Jameer Nelson a condition of the deal would at least help a little.

Nelson is no defensive-stopper, but he does have the ability to create his own shot off the dribble and a reliable perimeter jumper.

Nelson also has established chemistry with Howard that would make both player's transition to the West Coast a little easier.

More importantly, Nelson's game thrives on dribble penetration, which is exactly what Brown's offense has been missing up to this point.

The Lakers have been able to get points from the perimeter and post, but few of those scores can be directly credited to dribble penetration.

Kobe Bryant has been the only Laker who has been able to consistently create his own offense, and most of Bryant's attempts have been limited to perimeter jump shots.

Until the Lakers find a point guard who is able to apply consistent pressure on opposing defenses, you can expect to see teams sagging in to defend the post, regardless of who is playing there.

In fact, Bynum has shown in two games that he may be a better offensive option than Howard when healthy, and the Lakers arguably have the NBA's top starting front court without the Magic center.

But the Lakers' strength in the post can no longer mask their problems in the backcourt, and until that flaw is corrected it really doesn't matter what the Lakers do when it comes to Howard.