Rockets coach Kevin McHale makes a good point to start this video — Dwight Howard is a very good player. He is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, a guy who averaged 18.3 points a game on 57.7 percent shooting plus pulls down 12.3 rebounds a game as his career averages.
Because he had a down year last season — mostly due to injuries, but his attitude didn’t help matters — on a big stage, so he got painted with a “he’s not all that” brush. But he can be all that and more — he has to physically get right, then he has to go out and earn it. He expected things handed to him in Los Angeles, we’ll see if he’s grown from that experience (and he ugly leaving of Orlando).
Then McHale gets into his plans — he wants to use Howard’s speed (which is exceptional for a big man) and improve his balance. McHale wants to play fast, something Howard pushed back against when Mike D’Antoni came to Los Angeles.
It’s not a question of can McHale teach Howard things that Patrick Ewing or Kobe Bryant or anyone else could not, it’s a question of if Howard will listen. To use the old Buddhist phrase: “When the student is ready the teacher will arrive.” We’ll see if Howard is ready.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.