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Stan Van Gundy says Dwight Howard not as explosive

Dec 31, 2012, 12:24 PM EDT

Lakers Howard leaves the court after being ejected for a flagrant foul on Nuggets Faried during their NBA basketball game in Denver Reuters

A lot of people think Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy hate each other, but that’s not the case. They got over their little spat in Orlando pretty quickly and now text each other regularly.

Van Gundy probably knows Howard’s game as well as anyone and told the Los Angeles Times the back surgery has robbed Howard of some of his athleticism right now.

“I don’t think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past,” said Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando for five seasons before being fired in May. “Now, he’s still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me.”

Even the 80 percent of Howard is good — he is averaging 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. But he’s not the same physically and is searching mentally. Van Gundy also talked about the adjustment to playing with Kobe Bryant and what Howard has told him in their texts.

“It’s a big adjustment for him going from being the guy to not only being the No. 2 guy but really a No. 2 guy that really doesn’t get the ball very much at all,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a different deal and an adjustment he has to make. Those kind of things take time….”

“The only thing he’s really gotten into was,” Van Gundy said Friday in a phone interview, “he wants their defense to be better.”

I’m not sure we needed Van Gundy to tell us all this.

Watch Howard play and you can tell he’s not the same explosive player. Watch him on offense — especially since Mike D’Antoni took over and Steve Nash returned — and you can see him searching for his place and his touches in the offense. Watch him on defense and you can tell he’s frustrated.

A lot of that needs to be frustration with himself. He is not making the defensive plays (although to be fair, when he does help nobody helps the helper and picks up his guy). Howard isn’t running the floor or playing like the pick-and-roll beast that he can be. Maybe he needed to not rush back for the start of the season and let his back heal more. Maybe a lot of things.

But Howard finding his old self is a large part of the Lakers finding themselves.

  1. dannymac17 - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Does anyone care what this ron jeremy lookin reject has to say about anything?

    cant stand that guy.

    • eerock41 - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      That Ron Jeremy looking reject as you call him is one of the best coach’s in the game. It was not his fault that the Orlando GM decided to blow up the team after making the finals. Otis Smith was the problem with that Orlando team the whole time.

    • howitzer819 - Dec 31, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Living in Orlando, going to be about 15 Magic games a year since I was 9 (and not even being a fan of the team) I can tell you that you either A) don’t know anything about basketball or B) just wanted an excuse to be the trillionith person to point out that Ron Jeremy and SVG bare a SLIGHT resemblance to one another (because they’re both fat white guys with mustaches?)

      Stan Van Gundy is one of the very best and shouldn’t be unemployed; dude squeezed that piece of coal Magic roster into a diamond for his entire tenure there.

      • dannymac17 - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:48 PM

        if he was so great, he wouldnt have been fired period.

  2. davidly - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    The biggest problem with the Lake-Show is that they deluded themselves insisting it is championship or nothing. It’s called a show because–night in and night out–that’s what basketball fans want to see. But by insisting that anything short of a title is failure, every loss is magnified so much that it takes the fun out of the game.

    But the real delusion was the We can just plug in a couple of guys who look great on paper and win it all they went into the off-season with. The “on paper” part is what stuck out to me the most was the starting line-up on paper:
    2 x MVP on paper, seven years ago on the court.
    MVP on paper, five years ago on the court.
    Defensive Player of the Year on paper, nine years ago on the court.
    3 x DPotY on paper, major back surgery.
    Pau Gasol on paper…
    And then there’s the rest of the team.

    I’m not knocking these guys, but at some point you gotta say, “We look forward to entertaining our fans, let’s just see how far we can get.” But instead, they got the delusion which can only lead to heartbreak.

  3. iamjimmyjack - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Dwight Howard playing with a chip on his shoulder is a good thing. Keep the criticism coming

    • eerock41 - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      dont worry the criticism will get to him and he will start crying like he did in orlando. cant wait till he gives the lakers the choice of him or kobe. say bye bye howard.

    • mogogo1 - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      When is the last time Howard played like he had a chip on his shoulder? Or that he really cared? He may have some physical issues, as well, but the biggest problem is he’s just not fully committed to the Lakers or the game in general. I bet he spends more time debating where he’s going to be playing next year than he does prepping for the games.

      • somekat - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        I can’t say that I’ve seen enough Lakers games this year to say that is the case. But the problem is, it is an easy habit to get in, and a ridiculously hard habit to break (playing like you don’t care). I think he absoloutley got in to that funk during the end of his tenure in Orlando. I think he just decided that as long as they had a chance to do something, he was stuck there, and as long as he played well, they had a chance to win something, so he slacked it big time 2nd half of last year (The only reason I didn’t want him on my team).

        I guess the Lakers hoped that having him around Kobe would rub off and snap it out of him. But 100% effort is something that is in the make of the player. When you allow yourself to not play 100% all of the time, it is hard to get back to that point. But if it is lingering back issues, they will last the year. Take it from someone who has had back problems, I dont’ care what the doctors say, it won’t be right until you rest it for a few weeks (after it is technically “healed”) before it will be right again, period. I don’t see how he gets healthy playing every day

  4. fanofevilempire - Dec 31, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    the man had back surgery.
    he doesn’t have lift and explosiveness.

  5. tuberippin - Jan 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    It’s nice to see SVG still supports D12 after all the garbage in Orlando.

    I hope Dwight Howard still sends his support to Stan Van Gundy before Stan’s big competitive-barbecque-eating matches.

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