5 NBA Big Men Who Are Capable of Shutting Down L.A. Lakers' Dwight Howard
Even with how dominant Howard can be down low, there is still plenty of opposition in the NBA who will be looking to stop him at all costs.
Howard's target on his back may be especially larger after his dramatic season last year full of indecision and trade demands. I'm sure many players lost a lot of respect for Howard after he forced the Magic to trade him, and now they will be looking to show him up on the court.
WIth that being said, let's take a look at five particular NBA big men who are capable of stopping Dwight Howard.
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
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Howard and the Lakers will be playing against the Kings a few times next season, meaning DeMarcus Cousins will get a chance to prove his legitimacy as a top-level NBA center against the best in the league.
While the rest of the game may not be close, expect to see a battle down low with Cousins being an especially physical player.
Another interesting factor to note is that Cousins led the NBA in drawing charges last season, which is something that can be frustrating to be on the other side of. Considering that Cousins is not exactly an elite defender or shotblocker in the post, his ability to irritate and anger his opponent by playing physical and taking charges may be enough to deter Dwight Howard's dominance.
4. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
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After several years of seeing each other in the regular season and postseason, Joakim Noah is pretty familiar with how good Dwight Howard can be.
This next season, Noah will only get two shots against Howard, but you can bet he will make them count. Noah is a tenacious defender who can play as wild as his hairstyles. He prides himself on his defensive contributions and incorporates a lot of emotion into his play on the court.
Based on his experience with Howard, Noah has a pretty good feel for what he is capable of when playing against elite centers. Also, since he isn't much of a factor on offense, Noah can focus all of his effort and energy into playing defense against Dwight down low.
3. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers
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Andrew Bynum has always shown plenty of potential and has frequently been considered to be the second-best center in the NBA, living in Dwight Howard's shadow.
In terms of physical attributes, Bynum's 7-foot frame is plenty big enough to shut down most NBA centers. The fact that the Lakers dealt him away to Philadelphia in order to acquire Dwight Howard also means that Bynum will have an especially large chip on his shoulder for this season.
Bynum has often been tagged as an immature, undeveloped player who hasn't reached his full potential. Now that he is out of the limelight of Los Angeles and with his extra motivation to show the Lakers what they were missing, Bynum could become a force in Philly.
The 76ers get two shots at the Lakers next season, including a return to L.A. for Bynum on New Year's Day in 2013. Expect Bynum to be playing inspired basketball against his replacement, Howard, and expect him to do all he can to make sure D12 doesn't have a big game.
2. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
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Chandler wasn't named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year last year for nothing. Chandler served as a Dwight Howard replacement on the USA Olympic team this past summer and was selected to bring a defensive force to a high-scoring team.
Being a veteran, Chandler has seen his fair share of Dwight and should know how to approach his game in the post. Chandler is an excellent shotblocker down low and his ability to be an effective offensive rebounder should neutralize Howard's excellent defensive rebounding.
Expect to see the classic unstoppable force and immovable object when these two collide twice next season.
1. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
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Kendrick Perkins is often criticized for not showing up on offense or even in the box score in general, but he definitely brings the toughness and intensity to a game.
Last offseason, Perkins cut some weight and came back looking more agile and effective on defense. However, his injuries continued to plague him and limit what he could do for the Thunder down the stretch in the postseason.
However, even before all of this, Perkins was still doing a number on Dwight Howard on defense even back in his Boston Celtics days. In his career against Perkins, Howard has only averaged 16.3 points per game, well below his normal type of numbers.
After some recovery and even more conditioning, we could see the toughest Perk yet. Now that the Lakers are a major threat to take the Thunder's Western Conference crown, there will be extra motivation for Perkins to shut down the Lakers' newest superstar.