The Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard finished 14th in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award voting, an award that he won three times in a row just two years ago. This is symbolic of the overall change in Howard as a player since his injury last season. Of course, he did suffer a severe back injury, which is partly to blame. However, it isn’t the only factor that has caused a decline in Howard’s ability. He didn’t play well with teammate Kobe Bryant and it seemed to cause an emotional change in him. Since Bryant’s absence due to an achilles injury, Howard has changed. On top of all this, Mike D’Antoni‘s coaching style has not benefited Howard in the least. The Lakers have announced that they intend to keep D’Antoni for another season. If they go through with this, Howard shouldn’t re-sign with the Lakers.
One word to describe D’Antoni’s coaching is unprepared. He was unprepared to deal with four huge talents who would require huge roles. He was unprepared to deal with injuries because he was a late addition to the team and thus unable to provide depth to the bench for when injuries occurred. He was unprepared to deal with the possibility that his point guard centered style wouldn’t suit his new Lakers team with the roster he inherited. As a result, these issues that D’Antoni was unprepared for, have materialized on the court.
Howard has the option to consider free agency. Bryant will be recovering for a good part of the season so Howard has the chance to start a new era for the Lakers. The team that can afford to pay him a lot more than many other teams can or will. The only downside is that he will never reach his full potential under D’Antoni. He isn’t the type of coach that can coach a Dwight Howard type player. D’Antoni is a backcourt first coach who will not develop Howard into the defensive player he needs to be. Howard will have seen the end of awards like the Defensive Player of the Year award if he remains with D’Antoni and the Lakers.