It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! Nope, it’s just Dwight Howard. The Lakers have not performed the way that we expected them to starting out the season with a 7-8 record. Some of the games have actually been horrendous leaving all of us Laker fans crying ourselves to sleep as we try to figure out what could possibly be wrong with our team.
We’ve yelled and clawed at each other on social networks as we have tried to find answers. Many people blame Pau Gasol and demand that he be traded. Many state that the Lakers need to booster their bench. Others say that they just need to wait until Steve Nash returns and all of their problems will magically disappear. All of these things are being said, but Dwight Howard is barely being called out and I think it’s time. The honeymoon is over folks. The biggest problem on the Los Angeles Lakers right now is Dwight Howard.
Howard is currently averaging 17.9 points and 10.5 rebounds. Those numbers are nothing to turn your nose up at, but they are when we’re talking about Superman. Before the season began, Shaq stated that if Dwight wanted to be dominant, he’ll have to average 28 points per game and grab about 15 rebounds. When I first heard this from Shaq, I immediately dismissed it because we all know that his picture should be next to hater in the dictionary, but now my opinion has changed.
Dwight could easily average those dominating numbers if he did one of two things. Either start making your free throws, or find ways to work around the fact that you are absolutely horrible from the free throw line. He’s currently shooting a disgusting 47% from the strike. This absolutely has to change. The only way that Howard is going to be able to work around this horrible free throw shooting is to finish strong at the basket and make some and 1s, which is something that Laker fans was able to enjoy watching Shaq do for years.
With the Lakers losing games by less than 10 points, it leaves us all to wonder what could have been if Dwight would just make some of his free throws. In 4 of the Lakers’ 8 losses, the difference was single digits. If just a few more of the free throws were made during those 4 losses, the Lakers would have 4 more wins. We’ve unfortunately watched this guy shoot two airballs from the strike and we’re not even finished the first quarter of the season. I would never claim to be good in basketball, but I can pretty much bet my life that I would never shoot an airball from the free throw line.
It’s doesn’t just end with the horrible free throw shooting. His lack of footwork and post moves are also damaging the Lakers. The fact that he has barely shown anything more than athleticism and attempts to dunk the ball leads to the fouls and misses. He has also not performed like the three time defensively player that we’ve all seen. If you’re not scoring the way you would like to in a game, at what point do you start to get angry and crash the boards like a monster? Where are all of the easy points from offensive rebounds and put backs?
Even with this sub 500 record, the Lakers are performing very well. Kobe Bryant is currently having one of the most efficient seasons of his career, while leading the league in scoring. Metta World Peace is slimmer, faster, and knocking down enough three pointers. Pau Gasol is having trouble finding his role in this offense, but how can you blame him? There is not enough room down there for both Howard and Gasol. Fans want him traded, but his numbers are down because he has become a third option. I can pretty much guarantee that if Gasol received the amount of touches that Howard is currently getting, the Lakers would have ended up victorious in most of these losses because of his offensive skill and ability to knock down free throws.
It’s no secret that the Lakers have their issues. The turnovers are damaging. The bench isn’t performing well. Injuries to the Steves have been painful. They’re also going through a more than surprising coaching change, while still trying to figure out how to play together and build team chemistry. But even with all of those problems, they’re ending up in striking distance at the end of most of these losses. If Dwight performs the way that he needs to, it would make up for any of the other issues. It is the superstar’s job to do that.
Now Dwight Howard’s back isn’t 100%, but I’m not a fan of excuses. If you’re out there on that court, I expect you to perform the way you would normally perform. I do believe that things will change once Steve Nash returns, but I don’t believe that the Lakers should have to count on Nash being on the court to win some of these games. It’s time for Dwight Howard to stop being Clark Kent and step outside of the booth with an S on his chest. I also need him to take off that headband.