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Magic Johnson says Howard needs to work on his offense and D’Antoni needs to improve on defense


Guess who’s back? Back again? Magic’s back – tell a friend…or Jim Buss.

Magic Johnson was back to commenting on his Los Angeles Lakers today and he had some shots to fire in the direction of Dwight Howard and Mike D’Antoni.

According to the Los Angeles Times, his message was simple: Dwight needs to work on his offensive repertoire and D’Antoni needs to improve on his defensive coaching abilities:

[pullquote]”I don’t know. It just depends on who they put around him,” said Johnson, an ABC analyst and unpaid Lakers vice president. “You have to have some great players around him, and then Dwight Howard has to get better. I’m not happy with this Dwight Howard but if he gets into the gym … and gets some go-to moves, it will be a wise decision to sign him. He has a lot of work to do this summer on his offensive skills. He’s always been a great rebounder and shot-blocker.”

Howard can sign with another team for four years and $88 million. He will choose between the Lakers, Dallas and Houston when free agency begins July 1.

D’Antoni, meanwhile, has some work to do, too, Johnson said.

“I don’t like Coach D’Antoni’s system in terms of him not coaching defense. I just think that he has to do a better job defensively,” Johnson said. “No matter what he says, his system is to outscore other teams. Both these [Finals] teams have proven you’ve got to be great defensively if you’re going to win a championship. Coach D’Antoni’s going to have to change his approach because he didn’t win a championship in Phoenix … they didn’t get it done in New York and he sure didn’t show us that he could get it done with the Lakers yet. He has to concentrate in the defensive end just as much as he emphasizes offense.”[/pullquote]

Magic’s right about D’Antoni’s defense: it definitely needs to be improved and bringing in a coach who is a defensive specialist would be a start – there was talk last month of D’Antoni possibly bringing in Alvin Gentry or Nate McMillan to look after his defense.

The whole team needs to be on board with the defensive scheme, especially Howard. Dwight should be the most important part of the D as he can act as a great anchor on the defensive end and he also has the ability to make the offense think twice about entering the paint while he’s patrolling it.

As for Dwight’s need to add more moves to his offensive repertoire, sure, he could always improve in that area. However, I think he’s shown an interest in doing that in the past by training with Hakeem Olajuwon during the off-season. Dwight has more moves down in the post than people give him credit for – he probably just needs to be in the right system to utilise them properly.


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Written by Ross Pickering

Ross Pickering is the founder of He's here to bring you daily updates on your Los Angeles Lakers, despite living 5,485 miles away from L.A. in England. You can follow him on Twitter: @RossPickering

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