As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to fight their way into contention in the Western Conference, All-Star center and key offseason acquisition Dwight Howard has yet to live up to the hype that surrounds him.
While there are many experts that try to explain the porous play of Howard on both ends of the court, former Orlando magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has been vocal about what he thinks is hurting his former star.
Van Gundy told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times about the adjustments Howard must make in the Lakers’ system and if he feels the star will be willing to make the necessary changes:
It's a big adjustment for him going from being the guy to not only being the No. 2 guy but really a No. 2 guy that really doesn't get the ball very much at all. It's a different deal and an adjustment he has to make. Those kind of things take time.
I think Dwight is going to be more than willing to make the adjustment, but it's still an adjustment and it takes time mentally too because your ego—and ego is not a bad thing, it's a good thing, you need it to be great in this league—tells you that you're supposed to be the man and having to adjust to playing off somebody else is not an easy thing.
Howard’s actions during his final year with the Magic left a bad taste in the mouth of not only the Orlando franchise, but organizations all across the league. The center’s ego and mental fragility have been brought into serious question over the last two years.
The slow return to an elite level of play with LA brings even more validity to these claims.
With all the pressure mounting on Howard to bring Los Angeles an NBA championship and the fact that he must play second-fiddle to Kobe Bryant, there is no question the former All-Star is having trouble adjusting.
The center has too much raw talent to struggle for too long, though.
As much as a move to a different team was tough enough, the early transition to a new coach Mike D’Antoni and a completely new offensive concept has stunted Howard’s development.
While Van Gundy could be making comments about Howard because of how the duo’s relationship dissolved, the comments ring true and the young star must remedy his issues fast.
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