The Los Angeles Lakers have a championship-caliber roster capable of beating anyone in the league—but only when fully healthy. That’s exactly the reason why isn’t a big deal for Dwight Howard to use the regular season to play himself into shape and get healthy in time for the postseason.
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, the superstar center told the media:
"I'm not expecting to be 100 percent right now," Howard said following a preseason loss to the Sacramento Kings that dropped the team to 0-8. "I'm expecting to be in full force come playoff time."
As the Lakers are made up—with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Howard forming a four-superstar core—they have the firepower and experience to defeat any opponent they face. This is the one team, from either conference, that can undoubtedly challenge the Miami Heat for superiority in the NBA.
If Los Angeles happens to drop a few winnable games during the regular season in order to allow Howard to feel his way through, earn valuable reps with his new squad and get in better shape, it’s absolutely nothing to panic about.
Howard expects the criticism to mount if that scenario arises, joking to the reporters:
"Are you guys going to be this fun once the season starts?" he asked. "What about when we lose a couple games?"
As an eight-year veteran in this league, D12 knows that the Lakers will take some lumps as the team learns to jell—especially since he’s planning on getting into shape during the season, as he wasn’t able to during the summer due to recovery from back surgery.
Because L.A. is so talented, they could nab an eight seed in the West and still fight their way to the Finals, as long as they are healthy. We expect them to lock up the No. 1 or 2 seed—depending on how Howard’s recovery goes—and have their top four players perfectly fit come the postseason.
The Lakers just need to lock up a playoff spot with a healthy lineup to have a great chance to win it all in 2013.