Why Dwight Howard Will Steal the Los Angeles Clippers' Momentum
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Just when the young Clippers team had proven that they had the athleticism to step out of the Lakers’ shadow, Dwight Howard seemingly shifted the balance of power back to Los Angeles’ more prestigious franchise.
Here is why the Clippers’ momentum is now a thing of the past with Dwight Howard now in the Lake Show.
Changing the Talk of the Town
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As the Los Angeles Lakers began to struggle last season, most of Los Angeles’ attention was focused on the emerging Clippers.
Almost immediately, fans became enamored with the thought of a legitimate battle for Los Angeles supremacy, instead of the usual Lakers dominance. Even before the 2011-2012 season began, ESPN noted this rivalry in the making.
The 2011-2012 playoffs showed that the Lakers and the Clippers were about equal in terms of winning a championship, as the two teams suffered second-found losses to the two best teams in the Western Conference.
But ever since the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard from Orlando, the town of the talk has shifted back to the Lakers, leaving the Clippers in an unfavorable, albeit familiar situation of irrelevancy.
This shift in attitude is nothing new for the Clippers, but it may obstruct any progress the young team was hoping to have in the upcoming season.
Dominance over Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan
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As good as the duo of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were over the tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Dwight Howard acquisition makes the Lakers even better in the post.
Dwight Howard’s defensive repertoire can halt any production in the paint against both young Clippers big men.
Jordan, while productive, still has much to learn on the defensive end compared to Dwight Howard, and because of this, the matchup is inherently one-sided.
On the other hand, Blake Griffin’s lack of a mid-range jumper will surely be exposed now that the Lakers have Howard.
If guarding Griffin, Howard can force the Blake show to shoot those jumpers he has trouble with rather than going for the tomahawk slams he has been so accustomed to throwing down.
Despite who Howard would be guarding, his mere presence will deny the two Clippers big men those easy shots they grew so accustomed to prior to the trade.
Howard Can Limit Clipper Lob Passes
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For a team currently known as lob city, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers are going to have a difficult time completing lob passes when up against their fellow Staples Center tenants.
This, of course, is because the Lakers now have a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard.
Howard has had the honor of being named the NBA’s best defender from the 2008-2009 season through the 2010-2011 season, solidifying his status as an all-time elite defender.
According to NBA.com, Defensive greats Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace are the only two players with more Defensive Player of the Year awards than the Lakers center, with four a piece.
Chris Paul and company will find Howard’s presence in the paint to be a burden, leaving the point guard with few options.
Paul may decide, at times, to take over games himself, but this can only take the team so far.
This one-dimensional approach can easily backfire and lead the Clippers back into the lottery.
Vinny Del Negro’s Job Is on the Line
Will a bad Clipper record result in the firing of Del Negro?
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Dwight Howard’s acquisition makes the Lakers the best in the Pacific Division once again, and their record is going to be at the cost of the Clippers.
This not only affects the Clippers’ success in the short run, but also seasons ahead. Clippers management has basically been searching for a reason to fire head coach Vinny Del Negro.
In fact, Del Negro was on the hot seat for most of last season. The move to keep him was a result of making the second round of the playoffs, a sight that is very uncommon for the Clippers fan.
The Los Angeles Times reported that, even before last season commenced, the Chris Paul trade became something of a burden for the young head coach, as many were skeptical of Del Negro leading superstar egos.
If Dwight Howard and the Lakers dominate the division like they’re poised to, then Del Negro will surely be fired due to a losing record.
This will result in the Clippers being behind, once again, as they pick up the pieces from the previous season, with a new coach to start anew.