Dwight Howard: Lakers Fans Need to Show Patience with Star Center and Team

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures to a referee after fouling out of the game with the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on October 30, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Mavericks won 99-91.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Mayans were right, Armageddon is upon us and all that's left is the waiting. At least that's the theory according to most Los Angeles Lakers fans, who are apoplectic about the supposed superteam's 0-3 start.

Obviously, it's easy to make fun of the fans right now, but there is no pundit out there who thought this team would look so bad this early, either. Adorned with superstar players Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, the Lakers have enough talent on paper to challenge the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

In fact, yours truly even picked them to do battle with the Heat in June. But with three losses, two of which coming against non-playoff contenders, it feels like the sky is falling in Los Angeles. 

The brunt of the scorn has obviously fallen on Mike Brown, who, well, let's just say hasn't done the most competent job thus far. On the players' side of things, it's fallen on the head of the newbies, Nash and Howard, who have struggled to get acclimated.

Still, as always when sample sizes are so minuscule, I implore all the doomsday Lakers fans to practice patience—especially with Howard. 

Through three games, one could actually look at the box score and be extremely encouraged about his progress. The superstar center has scored 21.7 points, grabbed 10.7 rebounds and blocked 2.3 shots per contest while shooting 61.8 percent from the field. If those numbers look familiar, it's because they are all right in line with Howard's career statistics.

However, that would be a straw man's argument and glaring evidence that whoever is saying D12 is all the way back hasn't actually watched the games. What used to be ferocious dunks are layups and Howard looks far slower on his feet than he did in Orlando

Nonetheless, all of this is to be expected. You don't just have back surgery, have a slower than expected recovery, then hop back on the floor as if nothing happened. Simply put, that's not the way life works—especially with back injuries.

Anyone with a modicum of medical knowledge knew that it would take time for Howard to rebuild his strength and regain his former athleticism. And by all accounts, these early struggles are normal and Howard should be the player everyone expected by the time games actually matter. 

As for the team, that remains to be seen.

Through three games, it's pretty obvious that the Princeton offense is suffocating the life from the offense. But it's not for the reasons you think. The Princeton is an offense built on fluidity, where each of the five players on the court becomes a pseudo point guard when touching the ball.

The seeming elimination of the pure point guard has proved especially frustrating for Nash, who has struggled to adapt his game to the system.

Not to sound like a repetitive parrot or anything, but fans should have expected this slow growth. Nash is going from a system where he was the primary ball-handler and star for eight years to one where he's a part of a larger whole.

It would also help if the Lakers weren't so married to a robotic form of the Princeton. In an offense that allows for so much fluidity and individual creativity, it seems like the players are more worried about figuring out where they're actually going than playing the sport.

Again, time is of the essence. Howard, Nash and the Princeton offense weren't changes made to win a few meaningless regular season games in November. They were made to win championships.

However, only by avoiding the #firemikebrown trends and affording patience will this team be able to accomplish that goal.