When the Los Angeles Lakers added Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan this summer, it was clear they wanted to go back to their identity as a smashmouth team on both ends.
They will round out a big man rotation along with Anthony Davis, with the trio able to provide rim protection and vertical spacing. So far throughout the preseason, Jordan has manned the starting center spot next to Davis in games the Lakers have gone big, with Howard reprising his role as the first big off the bench.
While Howard may be the better player at this stage of their career, Frank Vogel explained why it would be Jordan that starts if he decided to go with a big lineup with Davis at power forward.
“We have had conversations about it potentially being Dwight, but we feel like at the end of the day one of the strengths of our team two years ago when Dwight was here was how much he punished backup centers and backup lineups,” Vogel said. “There’s a lot of small-ball with second units now and we really just moved the needle with how effective he was with second units and something we like with this year’s team, and DeAndre filling with the first unit.
“So we’ve had those types of conversations. This is where we are tonight. We’re not married to it, obviously, in the preseason with a new team. And in terms of DeAndre, he’s just, what is he? The No. 1 in the history of NBA basketball in dunks. Right? So he’s got a great knack for lob catching and finding his way to the base and finishing, and giving us that vertical spacing. He’s a vet that understands pick-and-roll coverages and just excels in that role of being a shot-blocking, rolling, offensive rebounding big.”
It makes sense for Vogel to want to keep things as similar as possible given all the roster turnover the past couple of seasons, and it is the right choice as Howard has looked dominant against opposing bench bigs. Jordan does not have the same pop off the floor he used to have, but he has been able to still catch lobs and quarterback the defense, so he is fine as the starter for now.
Of course, the starting center for the Lakers does not matter too much as people like Jordan have already admitted that it will likely come down to matchups.
Carmelo Anthony believes team will figure things out quickly
Anytime a team has several new pieces, it takes time for them to fully coalesce and play together as a unit. However, Carmelo Anthony is optimistic that Los Angeles will be able to figure things out quicker than most people expect.
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