Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Unfair Criticism of Dwight Howard. What Gives?

As I do everyday, I woke up this morning and sat on the shitter going over the Facebook newsfeed on my iPhone. There I noticed some people had a couple of not-so-nice things to say about Dwight Howard. Without mentioning any names, here are a couple of them:

Dwight please don't resign with the Lakers. You'll never win a championship.

I rather have 2014 cap space and draft picks anyways. #signandtradeD12

As I read these comments, I panicked. I thought Dwight had signed somewhere else. So I checked ESPN. Fortunately, he hadn't left yet. (Then I remembered he's not a free agent until July 1st.) Immediately, my next thought was to dust off the old jizz-stained laptop keys and write my next blog article. Here is a nice first thought:


Let's get something clear. I am not saying Dwight Howard is the best player in the league or better than Kobe or even a #1 franchise player. He has two huge flaws:

1. His head
2. Limited offensively

But is there another NBA superstar without any major flaws not named Lebron James? The answer is no! These flaws are no reason to get rid of Dwight. He is still the best center in the league. Who would you rather have in his place? Blake Griffin is an athlete who happens to play basketball. He is not a basketball player. Roy Hibbert has had a good playoff series. Let's see him turn that into multiple All-NBA seasons before we turn him into Hakeem Olajuwon. Marc Gasol? At some point I would like to write an entire article on why he is overrated. Omer Asik? Andrew Bynum? Tyson Chandler? Not even close. There is a reason why every team with cap space is chomping at the bits waiting to get their hands on Dwight. There is a reason why the Lakers have made Dwight their number 1 priority despite having their worst season ever. These GMs are smarter than you! (and me.) So before you unfairly blame Dwight for this past season, try to gain some perspective on the situation:

1. The back injury was a real thing. I know it sounds like an excuse, but Dwight himself is the one who came back early from the back surgery, so everyone expected him to be 100%. If he had not come back early, people would have realized the back injury was more serious and maybe they would have cut him a little slack. Remember in the beginning of the season, Dwight wasn't even supposed to come back until January. And the dude ended up playing in the freaking preseason! For the sake of the team!  This set him up from the very beginning to have a season with lingering injury issues. He wasn't 100% at any point in the entire season. 

Injuries weren't only an issue for Dwight. This was the most injury riddled Lakers team EVER! Look at the number of games missed by key Lakers players:

Dwight Howard: 6
Pau Gasol: 33
Meta World Peace: 7
Kobe Bryant: 4
Steve Nash: 33
Jordan Hill: The whole season!
Steve Blake: 37

With even 10% less injuries the Lakers could have had a better record and much better playoff situation. I mean they had freaking Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock starting in the playoffs!!! That kind of injury situation, combined with all the bullshit that I wrote about in the next paragraph, is a bad situation for any superstar. Forget Dwight Howard, Michael Jordan could not have had a positive outcome playing for the 2012-2013 Lakers.

2. Within a span of about 6 months, the Lakers traded for a different starting center, traded for a different starting point guard, signed two new key role players, installed a new offense, fired their head coach 5 games into the season, ditched the new offense, hired a brand new coach in the middle of the season, installed a brand new offense in the middle of the season. Are you fucking kidding me? This is not Major League Baseball. You cannot put together a bunch of different parts together and hope to win right away. Basketball is much more of a team game. It requires continuity and chemistry between the players and the coaches. The 2008 Boston Celtics does not happen very often. None of those changes can be blamed on Dwight Howard. The Lakers management is to blame here. Firing a bad coach to hire another bad one. Trying to implement a run-and-gun offense with an aging team. Handling the coaching search in the worst way possible. Maybe the Laker fans should all unite against Jimmy Buss instead of Dwight Howard. 

3. Dwight Howard cannot guard 4 players by himself. The Lakers' defense was horrible this year. But I don't understand why people are blaming D12 for that. I don't care how good of a defender you are. If you are surrounded by the worst defensive starting 4 in the league, you are not going to look good defensively. Everyone is raving about Roy Hibbert's defense in the playoffs. He played great. But don't be so quick to declare him better than Dwight. Let's compare the defensive help they had:

Hibbert's PG: George Hill (Young, athletic, excellent defender)
Dwight's PG: Steve Nash (Old, slow, maybe the worst defender in the league at his position?)

Hibbert's SG: Lance Stevenson (Young, athletic, energetic, no pressure or expectations)
Dwight's SG: Kobe Bryant (Old, at one point a great defender, now he chooses not to play defense, plays too much help defense forgetting about his own man, gambles way too much to go for steals, way too much pressure on him on the offensive end to also play excellent defense)

Hibbert's SF: Paul George (Young, athletic, maybe the best defender in the league, was even able to contain Lebron)
Dwight's SF: Meta World Peace (Old, slow, fat, good hands but maybe the slowest SF in the league when it comes to foot speed)

Hibbert's PF: David West (Strong in the post on both ends, one of the toughest players in the league)
Dwight's PF: Pau Gasol (Getting older, questions about being soft)

So before we all get out our pitch forks and run the best center in the league out of our city, just take a second to breath, and remember that Dwight still led the league in rebounding, was the starting center on the All-Star team, and made 3rd team All-NBA in a year where it was impossible for him to succeed. That is his worst year. If you ask me, that's pretty damn good for a worst year. His best year will consist of an MVP and a trip to the finals. Will he be the best offensive player or the emotional leader of the team when that happens? Probably not. But he was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the best center in the league. So unless you are prepared for life without him, beware watch you ask for Laker fans...

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly,
The King of Nothing

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The One and Only Certainty for the Lakers: CHANGE

As I sit at my desk writing my first article after the longest break I have ever taken from this blog, I amreminded of the first time I took some time away from writing. It was back in June 2012. Here is the first article I wrote upon returning. At the time, I strongly felt the urge to drain my man period, or manstruation, if you will, by cursing, ranting and raving. This time, it is different. I don't feel the urge to spend an entire paragraph saying the word "fuck" or call people retards or make racist comments. Don't get me wrong. I still have those feelings. I am still the same angry racist asshole you know and love. But I just don't feel the need to go out of my way to express my inner asshole. (Instead I just vent my frustrations through my outer asshole sitting on the toilet.) Maybe I am getting old. Maybe my testosterone levels are slowly declining. Or maybe I am just getting fatter and lazier. Whatever it is, here is the point:


Brace yourselves Laker fans (and haters). Changes are coming. BIG TIME! If there is one thing we can all learn from this Kobe Bryant injury, it is this: Kobe Bryant will rehab and work his ass off and be back and he will be a top tier player when he returns. No doubt. He will be ready. But will the Lakers be ready? I am more worried about the rest of the roster hell of a lot more than I am worried about Kobe Bryant with a torn achilles.

Back in 2009, I was talking with a friend of mine from pharmacy school. We were discussing the upcoming NBA playoffs. I casually mentioned to my buddy that I didn't think Dwight Howard was serious enough to win a championship. I thought he goofed around too much. I thought he liked to laugh and smile and make jokes just a little too much. Then a few weeks went by and Dwight Howard single-handedly carried a weak Magic team to the Finals. "I guess I was wrong," I said to myself. In reference to that thought, today I sit here saying "I guess I was wrong," once again. (I am sticking to my original thought of Dwight not being serious enough.) So here is the bottom line: Unless he dramatically changes his on-court personality(not impossible), Dwight Howard will never win a championship being the best player on his team. 

I think whether Dwight Howard resigns with the Lakers or not is irrelevant. Here is why: Whether he resigns or not, the Lakers are not going to be good enough next year to win a championship. Due to the contract and cap situations, the Lakers will be limited in what they can do to their roster. And whether he resigns or not, after next year, the Lakers will be contenders. Why?

Because they have only one player signed for the 2014-2015 season. Wait. Let me repeat that. The Los Angeles Lakers have only one player signed on for the 2014-2015 season!!! That player is Steve Nash at around 9 million. That means they have more than 80 MILLION DOLLARS coming off the books in the summer of 2014. Now of course some of that money will be used to resign Dwight, Kobe (at a much lower price) and maybe Pau (also at a much lower price). Regardless, they will have more cap room than they have ever had in the modern free agent era. And being the Los Angeles Lakers, they will attract some big time free agents. Here are some POTENTIAL free agents in the summer of 2014:

Dirk Nowitzki
Tony Parker
John Wall
Dwayne Wade
Lebron James
Chris Bosh
Luol Deng
Paul George
Carmelo Anthony
Zach Randolph
+ A bunch of other really good young role players and upcoming players that can be available.

With all the good team trying to limit their spending in order to avoid the luxury tax bill, and the bad teams not being as good of a destination as LA, I think the Lakers are going to revamp their entire team with a  bunch of new free agents in that summer. I am not saying all of these players I listed want to come to the Lakers. The Lakers may not even have a shot at some of these players. But if they can just sign a couple of those young big names, or maybe three, put them along side some sort of combination of Dwight/Pau (will be getting paid much less than now if he sticks around/Kobe (will be getting paid much less than now)/Nash, and recharge their bench with some young athletes, the Lakers will be contenders again...soon.

Lakers being contenders is not so surprising. Almost everyone can predict that will happen, just because they are the Lakers. But whether or not they will be perennial contenders on a verge of starting another dynasty will all depend on the coaching situation. I have been frustrated with the Lakers coaching situation for a while now. Every day I go to a wishing well near my house and through in loose change wishing the Lakers would fire Mike D'antoni. Lately I have been throwing in hundred dollar bills. Short of winning the first round playoff series against Pop (The best coach in the league) and the Spurs, I don't there is anything D'antoni can do to save his job. The problem is, I am not running the Lakers. Jimmy Buss is.

And as far as all the Laker haters are concerned, laugh it up right now. You have this short window until the summer of 2014 to clown on the Lakers all you want. They may be down right now, but the greatest franchise in the history of sports will rise again. Change may be inevitable when it comes to their roster, but one thing that never changes and never will, is that the Lakers will always be good again... 
...and that's just the way it is...

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly,
The King of Nothing