There are many who believe Dwight Howard with the Los Angeles Lakers will not make the impact others expect. For one, it takes time for new players to mesh, and the Lakers will have two new players in their starting lineup — Howard and point guard Steve Nash.
Bigger than that, though, is the concern about Howard’s back. He had spinal surgery on April 21 and has been working in rehab for a while now. And even though the Lakers insist the rehab is “going well,” they also admit that the 7-foot all-star center will not be able to practice with the team at the start of training camp in two weeks.
That’s not good. It means the team will try to learn how to play with Howard during the season, which makes the coming together that much more difficult because practice time is scare during the 82-game NBA season. So, it might be up to Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to keep the Lakers in the mix in the competitive Western Conference as Howard mends.
Since he is just beginning workouts from surgery four months ago, it stands to reason he will not be ready be ready for the physical demands of the NBA by the Lakers’ first game on October 31. And the Lakers, looking to protect their commodity, will not rush their prized off-season acquisition onto the court.
In the end, a fully healthy Howard is paramount to the Lakers’ chances to challenge Oklahoma City, last seasons NBA Finals participant from the West. Home court advantage could be critical in the playoffs, so how the Lakers manage without Howard will be important to their positioning.
The only thing the Lakers have on their side that could keep things afloat until Howard joins them is Bryant. His will to win and talent and ability to push his teammates could help the Lakers manage until Howard gets healthy. And with Nash, Gasol, Metta World Peace and others, it’s not like the Lakers are suffering from power sources. Still, Howard in the middle gives all those sources of power a strong support system.