Dwight Howard will miss the season opener for the Lakers and will be sidelined indefinitely as he completes rehab after undergoing back surgery in April. Oh joy. However, all is not lost as this gives the Lakers the opportunity to test their bench players in the beginning of the season.
There are five Lakers who will more than likely be the ones stepping up in Howard’s absence; Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, and Robert Sacre or Earl Clark. Pau Gasol has had to fill in for Andrew Bynum at the center position, and is able to switch to the middle to help out a Howard-less Lakers team. Jamison, a versatile forward who can score (he averaged 17.1 points last season and averages 19.5 points on his career), will more than likely start for the Lakers in the beginning of the season.
Jordan Hill, who managed to become one of the only consistent bench players for the Lakers last season, has a lot of potential and a lot to prove. Devin Ebanks will more than likely be seeing playing time at small forward while Jamison takes over Howard’s spot.
And last but not least, Robert Sacre and Earl Clark will be fighting for minutes as big men with the loss of Howard. The drive for either player to get recognized should result in some clean, effective playing for either person.
Chris Duhon, along with Earl Clark, will also see great potential with the Lakers. Both players came to Los Angeles as part of the Dwight Howard deal from Orlando, and they shouldn’t be overlooked. While not stars on their own, these two have the ability to amplify the bench in areas that had been previously lacking last season. Lakers Nation writer Elizabeth Benson details a a deeper look at what these new Lakers bring to the table and how their skills and abilities can be best used by Mike Brown in her article this morning. For both Earl Clark and Chris Duhon, their roles and minutes are expected to be limited at this point, but they have the potential to become great Laker’s assets.
The bench talent the Lakers have gained is really something to marvel at. Even with Howard unable to play the beginning of this season, I am not worried. I am confident that the Lakers with their returning starters, a new Steve Nash, and a slew of bench experience will do extremely well. And again, we have Mitch to thank for that.
Josh Sexton breaks down Kupchak’s player transactions as Lakers GM starting from #12 to #1. His piece is a great reflection of the difference Mitch has made on this organization from his start in 2000. The Lakers have reached the NBA Finals for three consecutive seasons (2008-2010) and won back-to-back titles under Kupchak in recent years. He also helped the team acquire championships in 2001 and 2002.
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