therealbig3 wrote:So, I have to say, I'm thinking Dwight Howard was seriously overrated both here and in the peaks project, myself included. His portability and his defense has been overstated, based on what we've seen from him this season so far. And his offense is really not that impressive imo. And looking at Orlando, they haven't completely fallen apart without him like many expected they would. Their defense has actually held up admirably, 14th so far.
So, thoughts on Dwight after considering Orlando's and Los Angeles's seasons?
I do understand that he's still not 100% physically, but I figured an 80% Dwight Howard would be better than this.
Yeah you have to watch to understand the issues.
First, Bryant's still ridiculously skilled one-on-one, but he has to work harder than ever to overcome his athletic decline to get shots. Probably as a result of this, he's jacking up shots the second he gets any breathing room because it's such a relief for him to have space these days. 26 shots and 33.5% USG over the last 10 games isn't optimal on any team...but whether you think that's sustainable or not, the issue really has to do with translating to defense.
Lots of one-on-one, long iso jumpers and the cluttered basketball that can result are killing LA in transition defense. Curious, I checked the fastbreak defense stats and the Lakers are DEAD last, at 15.9 ppg in transition (at nearly 2 ppp). Bryant's somewhat incredible efficiency has helped LA's offense thus far, but the tradeoff looks far worse to me -- I'd rather he exert way more energy on defense and be used as an off-ball threat on offense (he is a well above-average spot-up shooter), and allow the transition defense to set better as the offensive floor is balanced. This is something, ironically, Phil Jackson heavily emphasized in the triangle.
The team has other issues, of course, like health and coaching transitions (why is Mike Brown's staff still there?). But Howard is not to blame for the transition defense. His turnovers on offense also inflate that number, but as ronnymac said, he's being used in a cluttered manner and not in as many Tyson Chandler-spots. And the guy still isn't moving well -- he looks stiff and like he's quick sand a bit.
For perspective, how much does 3 turnovers leading to easy (~2 ppp) buckets on the other end impact the DRtg and the SRS? It's about 3 points a game difference, which would mean the Lakers would have a predicted record of about 22-11 right now, with about the 8th or 9th-best defense in the league.
To summarize, offense impact defense/transition D, Howard's health and some otherwise clunky defensive schemes (there's a LOT of pointing fingers after giving up wide open layups from breakdowns on backside help) are heavily influencing the defensive numbers and thus the SRS of this team. I don't much see it as indictment on 2005-2012 Howard at all, since he's not health and playing with a team that's a mess on defense, starting with its own offensive scheme.