The superstar center hasn’t seen action since electing to have surgery on a herniated disk in his back in April. He was shut down amidst a swirling controversy that culminated in the Orlando Magic’s blockbuster four-team trade that landed Howard in L.A.
If Superman can indeed suit up for the season tipoff, he’s going to be immediately counted on to contribute at a high level by the fans, his teammates and the Lakers organization.
Will he live up to these lofty expectations? Let’s make some predictions on how Howard performs in the opener against the Mavs.
Predicted Stats: 35 minutes played, 17 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks, one assist, one steal, four turnovers, 6-of-14 shooting, 5-of-11 free throws made.
If Howard can put up 17 and 13, no one in Hollywood will be complaining about the new big man.
Obviously, the center is going to be a bit rusty, which would explain the less-than-stellar shooting percentages and high turnover number, but he should be a defensive force and rebounding machine.
Will Howard be a stud or dud in the season opener (assuming he plays)?
While it might take a bit for DH12 to get used to playing with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, his sheer innate skill will allow him to get easy buckets off feeds from Nash.
His size and athleticism means rebounds will come as naturally as ever, especially with Gasol boxing out opposing bigs.
Don’t be surprised to see Howard playing at an All-NBA level as soon as he returns and possibly putting together his finest season to date with the Lake Show.