Contrary to popular belief, Kobe Bryant actually wants Dwight Howard more involved on the offensive end.
Furthermore, after a bit of research, it’s for good reason.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times, Dwight Howard was visibly upset at his lack of offensive impact during the Lakers’ 109-103 loss against the Golden State Warriors, even saying “I don’t really want to even talk about it.”
However, when Bryant was asked about Howard and his offense, he had this to say:
“I think he’s playing phenomenal. We’ve got to figure out a way to get him some more looks down low. I tried to step back as much as I could [Monday] and let that develop. But then [Howard hit] foul trouble and all of a sudden, it’s a 19-point game, can’t sit around much longer. We’ve got to figure that balance out.”
Apparently, it’s not as simple as just throwing the ball down low to Howard, either:
“You put him in a tough position because you just dump the ball off to him and now you’ve got five guys, four guys, breathing down his neck. We’ve got to run some things and get him on the move a little bit, make his life a little easier.”
Bryant went on to say that he encourages Dwight to shoot the outside shot as well–as he made a couple outside jumpers against Washington, but struggled against Golden State–as the only way to gain confidence is to keep shooting the ball.
Personally, I think it’s a good idea as well, as Howard has apparently worked on his mid-range shot a bit. If he can consistently hit it, it would allow Pau Gasol an opportunity to operate in the post while playing alongside Dwight. That would open up things for both big men, and be extremely tough for opponents to guard; drawing similarities to the way Pau and Marc Gasol play a la the Spanish National team.
Imagine Pau Gasol drawing a double-team in the post and flipping the ball over his head to a cutting Dwight Howard for an uncontested dunk. Get to workin’ on that play, coach D’Antoni!
As for the overall balance and getting Howard more involved, it’s a no-brainer that Dwight plays much better overall when he’s involved offensively and the team is generally more dominant when he has a big game.
For edification, in the 20 games in which Howard has had at least 20 points, he’s averaged 13.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
Additionally, when Howard attempts 13 or more field goals (which is closer to the average he had last year in Orlando), he pulls down 14.1 boards and gets 2.7 blocks, but also puts up 23.3 points on 58.1 percent shooting.
Those numbers aren’t much more impressive than the 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks he averages on the season, but it’s the energy and focus in which he plays with when he’s involved offensively that truly impacts the game in a positive manner.
Let’s take those 20 games where Dwight scores 20 points or more, for example: The Lakers are 14-6 (.700).
Similarly, in the 22 games in which Dwight gets 13 or more shot attempts, the Lakers are 17-5 (.773).
Those numbers simply don’t lie; especially for a team that’s 36-35 (.507) on the season, and 33-32 (.508) with Dwight Howard in the lineup.
Although as Kobe says, it isn’t as easy as simply dumping the ball into Dwight, the Lakers certainly need to find more ways to feature their big man on the offensive end of the floor if they intend to make the playoffs and make some noise in it.