Big man JaVale McGee is coming off an excellent season for the Los Angeles Lakers and figures to once again play a major role for the purple and gold. When healthy, McGee proved to be an interior force last season as he averaged over two blocks per game while functioning as an excellent roll target on the offensive end. Joining JaVale in 2019-2020 is former Laker Dwight Howard. Despite signing a non-guaranteed contract as a gamble on himself, Howard seems to be in some of the best shape of his career and could be the missing piece that rounds out the Lakers’ frontcourt.
JaVale McGee & Dwight Howard Bringing Intensity to Lakers’ Practices
The Lakers’ two big men have done an excellent job at setting the tone for Laker practices so far by all accounts. Aside from playing quality minutes, the two have brought a physical mindset to the early training camp practices and have even gotten superstar Anthony Davis in on the mix.
The Lakers have the size to take advantage of many teams in today’s small-ball NBA and working to establish that aggressive mindset early in camp is a good sign for the team moving forward. Especially for a team that has struggled defensively in recent years, the increased intensity should help to get players more locked in and focused on that side of the basketball.
While Mcgee showed off a similar work ethic last season, the big surprise comes in the form of Dwight Howard, who is seemingly in an entirely different mental state than he had been over the course of his entire career. More than happy accepting a smaller role off the bench and showing a renewed focus on defense and rebounding, Howard has a chance to put together a huge bounce-back season after his fall from grace.
Lakers’ Team Defensive Potential
As a whole, the Lakers have the pieces in place to potentially be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Aside from their duo of Defensive Player of the Year big men (Howard and Davis), the Lakers have former All-Defensive stars such as Avery Bradley, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Rajon Rondo.
The team has a strong mix of perimeter defenders, rim protectors, and versatile wing defenders – making them on paper an extremely difficult team to match up with. Howard, McGee, and Davis all excel at sending back shots and give the Lakers at least one (if not two) shot blockers on the court at all times.
The strong back line of the Lakers’ defense should do wonders for the heaps of strong perimeter and wing defenders the team has as well. With the knowledge that they have tons of help behind them to clean up any mistakes, elite defenders like Bradley and Green should be able to take more gambles on the perimeter, in turn leading to more turnovers.
While all of this is in theory as the Lakers have yet to take the court for even their first preseason game, on paper it looks as if the Lakers have a formidable defensive unit and one with the potential to give even the best offensive units in the league fits.