Dwight Howard: Star Center Must Be Fully Healthy for Lakers to Start Winning

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he is called for a foul during a 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on December 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

There are a number of things wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers—highlighted by a non-existent defense—but one of the biggest issues is the fact that Dwight Howard isn't 100 percent.

According to USA Today, Howard isn't putting a numerical percentage on just how healthy he is, but says he's definitely not fully healed.

Did you think I'd be coming out and be high-flying? A lot of people do... I was out six months. It takes time to get back. It wasn't like I worked out during those six months. I'm not in terrific shape, and it takes a while. You try not playing for six months and having back surgery and coming back playing. It's not something easy...I wasn't supposed to be playing until January. What do you expect?

Howard certainly sounds frustrated, and rightly so.

Los Angeles has dropped four straight, is just 9-14 on the season and has seen offseason acquisition Steve Nash miss nearly the entire season due to a fractured fibula.

You can spend the entire day speculating what's wrong with the Lakers—they miss Nash, need to play better transition defense and need more production from their bench—but the reality is that a healthy Howard will make all the difference.

The star center's free-throw issues have been well-documented (by myself included), but he's still playing well and averaging a double-double through 23 games this season.

With that in mind, can you imagine what the Lakers would be capable of with a healthy center?

Howard is already averaging 18.5 PPG, 11.9 RPG and 2.5 BLKPG, and yet it's not enough to put a win on the left side of the column for L.A.

Kobe Bryant can't do it all on his own.

The Black Mamba is leading the league in scoring (29.3 PPG), but as we've heard over and over again, Los Angeles doesn't win games when Kobe goes for 30 or more.

I'm not saying Howard should have waited until he was fully healed to play because we don't know how long that will be and he hasn't shown many ill effects from his back injury.

What I am saying is that a completely healthy Howard is the key to the Lakers' success.

He's the focal point of the Lakers' rebounding and post game, and if he's not completely healthy, I don't see how L.A. can get back on track.

Howard says he's getting better, but until he feels he's fully healed, don't expect to see the Lakers at full strength.


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