Lakers Rumors: Projecting Dwight Howard's Stats with Nash, Gasol and Kobe
With Steve Nash locked in for the next three years and the crisis at point guard solved for the immediate future, most talk of trades in Los Angeles has turned to one Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.
Rumors have been plentiful recently, and, while Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Lakers are looking at Howard with some understandable trepidation, it is still worth considering the impact that a perennial All-Star like Howard would have on the L.A. offense.
There is plenty to consider about the statistical impact Dwight Howard would have in Los Angeles—from the pace and design of the offense to the talent of his prospective teammates and even simply how many touches he would get.
Howard has never played with a point guard at Nash's level, which could maximize his effectiveness on the court. The two would make an absolutely lethal pick-and-roll combination, and Howard would be able to receive passes in his best spots on the floor.
Howard's athleticism would help in running the floor alongside Nash and creating easy scoring opportunities. Nash is truly one of the most gifted passers in the league and a tremendously unselfish star guard. If Howard does end up in Los Angeles, Nash's presence will be essential in his offensive production.
Howard does not have a bevy of post moves, but he can carve out solid position and often overwhelm his opponents and finish at the rim.
Pau Gasol may not be the sharpshooter Ryan Anderson is from distance, but he does have a reliable perimeter jumper that forces opposing big men to leave the paint to guard him, opening up room to work. Howard works well with a stretch-four and Gasol's ability to play outside the paint should open up room for him to work.
The only problem that faces Howard is whether he would get his share of shots. In an Orlando offense where he was easily the best player, he averaged just 13.4 shot attempts per game. Playing in Los Angeles with three other stars who need their shots, would he call for the ball enough?
Kobe Bryant will still be the focal point of the Lakers' offense and demand his share of looks at the basket, so the two would need to find a way to coexist.
One other thing to consider is the Lakers' lack of three-point shooting. Nash and Bryant are solid from the perimeter, but coming from a Magic team where everyone could spread the floor to a Lakers team with less outside shooting, teams may try to key in on Howard in the paint, especially if Gasol's jumpers aren't falling.
With Jordan Hill potentially returning behind him and Gasol capable of playing center as well, I could see Howard playing around 36 minutes per game. Ultimately, I think he could average something like 21 points per game. Even with the offensive talent around him, Nash still brings out the best in his bigs.
With Gasol also pitching in on the glass, Howard should grab about 12.5 boards per game, a little below his career average. An area he could see a serious spike in, though, is assists. I could see Howard averaging a career-high 3.5 assists per game given the level of talent he'd be playing with.
He would shoot efficiently from the floor, around 56 percent, and as the primary defensive presence for Los Angeles, he'd notch 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per contest.
He has the potential to score 25-plus per game, but L.A. plays at a fairly slow pace and has become more of a defensive team under Mike Brown.
In the end though, I think he would continue to put up All-NBA-type numbers and make Los Angeles into a title contender once more.
Obviously, though, this is all moot if the two teams can't come to a deal, but Howard would still be able to put up brilliant stats alongside L.A.'s new "Big Three" of Nash, Gasol and Kobe.
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