The Lakers have always had a big man fetish since their Minnesota days. From George Miken, Kareem, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaq, Gasol and now add Dwight Howard to the list of 7 foot phenoms who made/will make the Lakers even more formidable. But the NBA has gone in and out of phases and as of now, is it even necessary to have a big man on your team, yet alone two? There’s that saying that you can never have enough size on a basketball team, I think it’s time to put that theory to the test. The Lakers are a unique case though, they’re going up against a power shift in positions, their age and the fact that maybe they’re ‘too stacked’.
Today’s NBA is not ruled by big men. Consider domineering big men guarding the paint as the dinosaurs of the sports world, they’re veritably extinct and the age of the combo guard has taken over. The NBA of today is built off mid size guard play at the perimeter, with bulk scoring and the ability to get to the line and make a free throw. As we all know Dwight Howard is deathly afraid of the free throw line, that alone is a con right then and there. To be a dominate player in today’s NBA *Robert Littal voice* you have to make your free throws, young man. The Lakers age doesn’t bode well when it comes to guarding the outside and stopping players like Lebron, Wade, Westbook, Durant, Williams, Rose and company from making j’s right in your face. The Lakers are frankly too old and slow to be carrying this much size on their team.
I’m going to try to put this in perspective a bit. Now, anyone who follows baseball regularly knows what happened when the Yankees signed an old Randy Johnson to their stacked team back in 2005–it was a complete and utter fail. Yeah, it sounded nice on paper five time CY Young winning Randy Johnson, who had beat the Yankees when on the D’backs in 2001 on his way to the best team in baseball…things could only get better, right? The reality of the situation is that when you become an embarrassment of riches and just start hording players because of the fact you can, and not out of necessity things become convoluted. I believe the Lakers and their fan base fell in love with the idea of arguably the best center in the game coming to join Kobe and crew. But let me ask you a question? Does it matter? It’s like bragging about having the best Myspace page in the county. Secondly, injury risk aside, how much better is Dwight Howard over Andrew Bynum? Is it possible that Bynum’s game would have been a better fit for this current Lakers team?
The Lakers may be a better team, but they still will have issues because of their age. How will they be able to handle the athleticism of teams like the Thunder and Heat? Howard comes in recovering from a back injury, so it’s still going to be interesting to see what he has to offer. The Lakers are a team made for the playoffs first and foremost though, and can anyone really see Steve Nash guarding Westbrook in the playoffs? Will Howard be enough to mask the Lakers deficiencies on the perimeter? The Lakers should’ve made a move to trade Gasol and opt for a better shooting forward who’s more mobile than Gasol, who has lost his step. I think Gasol-Howard tandem at the 4 and 5 clogs up too much space in an area that doesn’t need two big 7 footers just standing around watching. I’m challenging the basketball purists and saying yes, there is such a thing as ‘too much’ size in the NBA.