Breaking Down How L.A. Lakers Will Fill the Dwight Howard Void
You can assume with some degree of safety that he'll be back sometime in 2012, but that's not especially reassuring to a reshuffled roster looking to hit its stride well in advance of the postseason. Between learning the Los Angeles Lakers' new Princeton offense and growing accustomed to some new faces, there is plenty of transitioning to be done.
Until Howard can join in on the fun, head coach Mike Brown will have to find someone else who can pick up the slack.
The good news is Los Angeles does have another seven-footer with whom you just might be familiar.
Though Pau Gasol has gotten used to play at power forward, there's no question he can still hold his own at the center position. In fact, he might even excel at the position given his ability to space the floor or facilitate pick-and-rolls with Steve Nash.
As good as the Lakers offense promises to be with Howard, it will do some pretty impressive things without him, too.
There are a couple of different things L.A. could do with its starting lineup for time being.
The first option would be to keep a bigger lineup in place in an attempt to ensure the painted area remains one that is also well-fortified. In this scenario, 25-year-old Jordan Hill would team up with Gasol for a combination in which either could pass as the center.
Hill struggled at first to earn playing time after being traded to the Lakers last season, but he was playing over 18 minutes a game by the playoffs.
Howard won't lose any sleep about losing his starting job to the guy, but it would still be an important opportunity for Hill. He's not a remarkable defender, and he has limited scoring ability outside the paint.
However, he's 6'10" and explosive enough to at least make an impact on both ends of the floor, especially on the glass.
The alternative to starting Hill would be spreading the floor with Antawn Jamison.
The Lakers would lose something defensively and they'd struggle mightily to grab rebounds. There's a lot not to like about this option, especially with the defensively porous Nash already on the floor.
Jamison would, however, make Los Angeles' starting lineup one of the fiercest scoring units in recent memory.
He's not much more than a perimeter shooter at this point, but that's not necessarily a bad thing with Nash carving up the defense and creating open looks.
Spotting up and hitting a few corner-threes has never been flashy, but it could be awfully important to getting the Lakers off to a good start.
Of course, the Lakers' best option may be to play things by ear. Jamison and Hill could share starting responsibilities depending on the matchups.
In that event, Los Angeles gets the best of both worlds—at least while it waits for the main attraction to suit up.
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