The Los Angeles Lakers got their first glimpse of Dwight Howard last night in an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings. Even though the Lakers lost, it was exciting to see Howard play with his new teammates, and for the most part he performed well.
Howard finished the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. There were many times when the Lakers threw lobs to the big man and the entire crowd got on its feet after the vicious throw downs. Although 19 points in a Lakers debut is impressive, team leader Kobe Bryant wants to see more out of his center.
Bryant spoke to Yahoo! Sports and he talked about how he would like Howard to do more on the offensive end.
These Lakers don’t wonder defensively about Howard, because they already see the way he’s going to change everything for them there. Yet Bryant has gone out of his way to push Howard to become a far more complete offensive player, to, in his words, “challenge him to do more than just screen-and-roll and dunk. We want opposing teams to see him as a dominant force.”
Coming into the season, there was no question that Howard could make an immediate impact on the defensive end. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner has a proven track record on that end of the court, but it were his offensive skills that were in doubt.
Bryant wants his center to command double teams when the ball is in his hands. Even though Howard’s presence can force teams to apply tougher defense, he can struggle at the offensive end at times. If he can develop more of a mid-range game and an occasional hook-shot, the Lakers will be a very formidable squad this upcoming season.
In case you missed it: Dwight Howard talks about his Lakers debut.
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