Superman saved the Los Angeles Lakers once and brought them three championships. However, the new version of Superman will not and should not save this Lakers group.
So as the Los Angeles Lakers' season comes to an unceremonious end, the Dwight Howard to LA rumors are certain to fly.
Yet take a moment to think. Do the Lakers really need, or better yet, want Howard? The answer should be a resounding NO.
Dwight Howard is a top-five player in the NBA and would be a tremendous asset to many teams in the league—except the Lakers. So while many have pegged Superman II as the next great big man to rock the purple and yellow, one has to wonder how adding Dwight Howard will make this Lakers team better.
Howard’s greatest strengths happen to coincide with the Lakers' greatest strengths. The Magic center is the best rebounder in the game today; however, the Lakers as team ranked third in the NBA in rebounds per game at 43.96. So Howard would be an upgrade there, but not a significant one and since LA is fifth in rebounding differential per game it is a safe assumption that rebounding will not be a point of emphasis this offseason for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak.
Shot-blocking is another one of Howard’s fortes, but again the Lakers are strong there. They rank 10th in blocks per game at 5.15, which places them seven slots higher than Orlando. So Howard would be an upgrade here, but this is not an area screaming for improvement.
Lastly the Lakers were seventh in points in the paint with 42.3 per game and were tied for second in points allowed in the paint with 33.8. With those numbers it does not seem logical to tug on Superman’s cape.
Statistically, adding Dwight does not make much sense, but it makes even less sense from the standpoint of what the Lakers would have to give up to acquire him. Any deal will have to include Lamar Odom and either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. Losing their depth in the frontcourt will not stop opposing point guards from killing the Lakers night in and night out.
Yes, it may slow down some of the trots to the cup, but it certainly will not stop them. The Lakers have two 7-footers now and despite Bynum’s flying elbows, guards still seem to not only get to the rim but also finish when they arrived there.
For all of Howard’s strengths, few would argue that he is a “fluid” offensive player and in a conference that features 12 of the top 15 scoring teams in the league, points will be at a premium. With Gasol and Kobe Bryant the Lakers are faced with a dilemma that even Superman would not be able to fix.
Gasol struggled this postseason and there is no way around that, but he did flourish last postseason. He has at least three more years of high level basketball left in him and to potentially trade him for a less polished player could be disastrous for this franchise.
Bryant poses another issue. He has shown flashes of his customary brilliance; however, those flashes have been interrupted by constant reminders from father time. At this point in his career Bryant needs to fall back early in games so he can rise up late in those very same contests. It seems imperative that the Lakers' front office target players who can not only score but can also be aggressive no matter the situation.
Two glaring positions where the Lakers must improve are at point guard and at small forward. With a new coach on the horizon it is tough to prognosticate what lead guard will be best suited to run the Lake Show.
Darren Collison is a good young guard who would have eased the transition from Derek Fisher, but there is no way the Indiana Pacers, and Larry Bird specifically, would let him go.
So being creative is the key for the Lakers, and judging by their season’s stats, guard play will be foremost on their mind. They ranked 18th in assists per game and had a negative differential there. Meanwhile on the defensive end, they were 14th in steals per game and also had a negative differential there.
These numbers are statistical proof that point guard should be first on their to-do list. As much as the masses are screaming for CP3 it seems unlikely New Orleans would trade him and if they do the 323 is not going to be the area code they call.
Small forward should be a much easier slot to fill since the NBA is full of 6’6" to 6’8" guys who can play. Again, creativity and efficient player scouting will be the key here.
Regardless, it is obvious changes will be made, but most should expect those changes to lie in the backcourt and not the frontcourt.