I’ve discussed this before, and I’m sure so have plenty of other sports analysts, but I find it’s a point that cannot be stressed enough, especially considering the recent season ending injury to the Los Angeles Lakers’ leader Kobe Bryant.
In order for the Lakers to have any hope of winning, or even contending for the championship, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have to play the best basketball they’ve ever played in their lives. Sure, this will obviously be quite the difficult task, and it’s going to be quite an adjustment for both Howard and Gasol to realize that the Lakers no longer have Bryant to fall back on.
However, both players are more than capable of accomplishing the tremendous obstacle of carrying the team. I can say this with confidence because I’ve been paying attention to what they’ve been doing the last few games.
I’m sure a lot of viewers of Friday night’s game were far too distracted by the injury to Bryant to notice the stellar performances by Howard and Gasol. Howard had a nice 28 points with seven rebounds, and Gasol had an even more amazing 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists! If the Lakers big men duo can manage to play even slightly like this, they can easily be the best power forward-center combo in the NBA.
The real challenge for this task isn’t Gasol and Howard’s actual game, but rather, the onus of responsibility falls in the hands of the rest of the team. Every opponent the Lakers face is going to obviously know that Howard and Gasol are going to be the primary scoring options, which will inevitably lead to double teams of either of the two. But what do double teams do?
They free up another player on the court, and I don’t care who that other player is, but he has got to hit his open looks. If the Lakers can manage this, then they’ll have one of the best inside-outside offenses in the game, and a really strong post presence, which will prove to be beneficial in a western conference with not to many talented big men.