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While the Lakers wait on Dwight Howard, they’re pursuing outside shooters for Mike D’Antoni’s system

Jul 2, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

Dwight Howard is the Lakers’ first (and second and third) priority in free agency. They’ll meet with the big man on Tuesday with the hope that their pitch seals the deal on his return to Los Angeles where he will anchor their franchise and lead them into the post Kobe Bryant era.

However, as the Lakers wait to make their pitch, they’ve been very active in putting out feelers to free agents who will improve their team next season. At the open of free agency and through Monday, the Lakers were quite busy reaching out to multiple players all of which seem to have the same traits in common.

They’re all perimeter oriented players who are capable outside shooters.

From former Lakers Jordan Farmar and Matt Barnes to Knicks restricted free agent Chris Copeland to Timberwolves swing man Chase Budinger to Cavaliers sharpshooter Wayne Ellington to former Rockets Carlos Delfino and Francisco Garcia to the Sixers shooter Nick Young to the Bobcats’ Power Forward/Center Byron Mullens, the Lakers haven’t been shy about expressing interest in guys who can stretch the defense and help provide the spacing the team sorely lacked last season.

As we were reminded during the NBA Finals when the Spurs and Heat relied heavily on hitting shots from behind the arc, having capable shooters is a necessity in today’s NBA. And with the Lakers’ clearly deficient in that area, it makes sense for them to try and sign as many of these guys as possible. However, there’s more to trying to sign them than simply trying to keep up with the Joneses.

First off, if you’re going to build a team around Dwight Howard (not to mention Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol), having an excess of shooters should be a top priority. Howard’s most successful teams in Orlando all featured multiple players capable of knocking down the three-ball and the space those shooters provided allowed him the room he needed to operate in the paint. When Howard doesn’t have that space, he can be turnover prone and be fouled quickly to be put on the foul line where he struggles mightily.

The other key point, however, is that these players signal that the Lakers are very much in support of trying to build a roster that fits into Mike D’Antoni’s system. D’Antoni prefers to run a spread pick and roll attack that punishes defenses with made three pointers off kick and swing passes when too much help is provided in the paint on dives by the big man or the ball handler penetrating. But too often last season, the ball was being passed to Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks, Earl Clark or Antawn Jamison — all capable shooters, but all also very inconsistent in how often they knocked down open shots.

If the Lakers could get better shooters on the floor consistently it would guarantee that the offense would run smoother. Adding one or more of the players listed above would be a nice start in accomplishing this goal and would help kick start D’Antoni’s attack from the inconsistent one that too often fell flat in Los Angeles to one closer to what he had in Phoenix.

Of course, if some of these shooters could also play some defense, that would be even better and could maybe help D’Antoni’s reputation on the other side of the ball. Or maybe they’ll just use Dwight for that. At least they hope.

  1. bucs24 - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    I’m glad u think your getting Howard dumbtoni is still there right?

  2. aboogy123456 - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    I disagree with this article. Any system that is based around Dwight Howard needs good shooters. The fact that the lakers are going after shooters really has nothing to do with D’Antoni, but it’s a good sign to Dwight to show him that they want to surround him with more shooters so he has more of an open post to himself, like he did in Orlando.

    • onlyavoice - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      The Problem Is Is That D’Antoni’s System Is Not Based Around A Center.
      (Do You People Even Watch Basketball)
      Nash Publicly Stated In Phoenix That He Never Played With A True Center (SHAQ) & Was Still Having Trouble Adjusting 1/2 Way Into The Season.
      D’Antoni Had No Use For Pau Or Howard Until Kobe Took Over. Nash Couldn’t Play That Way again & Was Moved To The 2. (Nash Should NEVER Had Been Signed) Then Kobe Has To Play Like a Madman & The Team Started To Win.
      It Was Kobe Who Brought Change, Not D’Antoni. (Kobe Slated D’Antoni In The Playoffs By Coaching Via Text)
      The Lakers Are a Mess, A Big Mismatched Mess & are By FAR NOT Contenders.
      Howard Isn’t The Only One Who See’s This & Isn’t To Blame For wanting Out.
      D’Antoni Is Jim Buss’ Egotistical Mistake.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      aboogy123456

      Above you said “any system that is based around Dwight Howard needs good shooters.”

      This article stated the following and I quote from the article:

      “First off, if you’re going to build a team around Dwight Howard (not to mention Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol), having an excess of shooters should be a top priority.”

      Then, immediately after that comment, the article stated the following:

      “Howard’s most successful teams in Orlando all featured multiple players capable of knocking down the three-ball and the space those shooters provided allowed him the room he needed to operate in the paint. When Howard doesn’t have that space, he can be turnover prone and be fouled quickly to be put on the foul line where he struggles mightily.”

      I know you said he had this in Orlando. The Lakers know this and want to do it in LA too with him.

      D’Antoni has never used a traditional center. The short time with Shaq didn’t work or count. A’mare was a big, but more of a slasher and he ran the pick and roll with Nash well and they had good outside shooting.

      D’Antoni doesn’t want Dwight camped out in the post. He wants him to run the pick and roll with Nash.

      The stats show that Dwight shot much better and had many more points per possession in the pick and roll by far than he did while down in the post. Yet, Dwight has said he doesn’t like D’Antoni’s offense even though he shoots and scores at a much higher clip being used that way than he does down in the post.

      It’s best for Dwight if there are shooters outside for him.

      D’Antoni has always liked and wanted shooters outside and hasn’t cared for a center being down in the low post.

      The article is correct on both points.

  3. lastdukestreetking - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Every team needs good 3-pt shooting to be successful. Compare the bad teams with the better teams and the difference in outside shooting capability is glaring. And that’s regardless of whether Howard is on your team or not.

  4. kingjamess7 - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Give it up Mitch! If Howard is smart he’ll leave. Mike D. Is far from the answer! This is so painful 2 watch!!

  5. klownboy - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Here’s some advice to the Lakers: fire D’Antoni. Aside from the early years in Phoenix, where has he really won? His “no defense” and “small ball” style does not work. Period.

  6. bucs24 - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Come on dumbtoni isn’t a good coach, with the suns he had everyone in there prime and didn’t win so know take a older team with 2 bigs and u can’t use them fire the coach

  7. azarkhan - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    The Lakers might also want to recruit a point guard since the one they have now will be 40 years old next year and a shooting guard since the one they have now will be 35 in August and is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.

    • onlyavoice - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Ball Hog Kobe Has Moved Nash To The 2.
      Nash Should Have NEVER Been Signed, Not Even As A Bench Player.

      • aboogy123456 - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Kobe didn’t want to play like a point guard but he had to, because Nash was not handling pressure well and he wasn’t able to run their offense efficiently, and had too many turnovers. Kobe, being the team player that he is, started to change his role to be less of a scorer and more of a facilitator. Have you watched any laker games or do you like to just hate on Kobe?

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        onlyavoice and aboogy123456

        I’ll leave opinions out and use facts. This season, for the 50 games Nash appeared in at 38 yrs old, he did the following:

        .497% from the field
        .922% from the line
        .438% from 3 pt range

        He just missed the 50/90/40 club this yr, which he’s made 4 other times in his career.

        All were much higher than Ray Allen’s percentages with the Heat this yr in his age 37 season. On top of that, Nash’s career shooting percentages are higher across the board than Ray’s in these areas too.

        Aboogy1223456. You said Nash had too many turnovers. Nash had 2.8 turnovers per 36 min’s of court time this year. His career average is 3.3 turnovers per 36 min’s of court time so he committed half a turnover less per 36 min’s of court time this yr.

        Nash committed fewer turnovers per 36 min’s of court time this year than he has in his last 9 seasons… The Lakers and everyone else knew what his stats were over the yrs in everything, including turnovers. They knew he had been in the high 3’s and even over 4 turnovers per 36 min’s of court time.

        They have to be thrilled that he only turned the ball over 2.8 times per 36 min’s of court time. It was a huge improvement over his previous 8 to 9 seasons…

      • aboogy123456 - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        sportsfan, very good stats, but I think they are skewed because Nash committed many less turnovers when kobe started taking over the point. That being said, I didn’t realize he had so few turnovers per 36, but in general I saw when watching the games that he wasn’t handling pressure well. Guys would trap him, and instead of beating the trap, he would pass it to the closest guy. This doesn’t result in a turnover, but he still wasn’t able to set up his teammates in a scoring position. Kobe does a great job of forcing a double team, and then kicking it to the open guy.

        Nash is a great shooter and I think he had an underrated season, but I don’t think he is the best at setting up his teammates in a good position anymore, and he’s better off the ball. My original point was that the offense as a whole worked better when kobe was creating opportunities for others, and it’s stupid to call him a ballhog. The game that stood out as the turning point is when the lakers lost at miami. Nash wasn’t handling miami’s traps so from then on kobe started facilitating more.

      • mytthor - Jul 3, 2013 at 2:00 AM

        You and your crazy facts. But you forgot to mention one thing; every word is capitalized, meaning the author is always correct. Sorry.

  8. 13arod - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    They should sign jj redick

  9. onlyavoice - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    LMAO,
    Laker Fans Still Think The Team Is A Contender.

    • dirtydavis - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      I bet you began watching basketball in 2011 ( post decision)

  10. cavemanna - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    This generation of people, sucks .

  11. jerdogthompson - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    It seems like only yesterday that Nash and D12 were signed and every laker wack job from the wood work was jamming this board giving themselves the chip. My, my, my how things have changed so quickly. Kinda sad, take that back. Kinda funny.

  12. unxpexted1 - Jul 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I’d love to see JJ Reddick on the lakers but doubt we can afford it.

  13. harshedmellow - Jul 2, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    I love watching Laker implosions.

    If last year didn’t show that the “core” of Nash, MWP, Kobe, Pau and Howard was a fiasco, a fantasy dream team but reality nightmare, then I just don’t know what it’ll take to make Laker fanboys see the light.

    Nash? He’s toast physically. Which- word to the wise,eh- happens to 40 year old athletes. Time wounds all heels. And on that note, Kobe? The utter delusions coming from him and his fans are a comedy. His Achilles grenaded at the end of last season. At the end! That’s a 1-year injury before you even think about pushing it. When he does come back, he’ll be a shell of who he was. He’ll still get 15 PPG on guile and willingness to heave the rock, but Kobe has always come with a big downside, and that downside will be on DISPLAY when he comes back. MWP? Puh-LEASE. The term “lost a step” was invented for guys like him. Pau? Breaking down physically, and has had his confidence eroded by being dangled as trade bait.

    And Howard?! He’s not coming back. This is the best illustration of LakerFan dementia. If you think ANY PART of last season would make him think “this is the perfect fit for me to spend my prime years!”) then…… then….. sigh. Then there’s no helpin’ ya.

  14. banggbiskit - Jul 5, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    It seems like “drama” follows D12 wherever he goes, he just can’t seem to live a drama free life. At any rate, my gut is telling me the Lakers made a mistake to beg and grovel at this guy’s feet and then Kobe telling him “let me show you how to win” was probably the last straw, and you guys know the sabotage was in effect full force, Kobe doesnt want to play 2nd fiddle to Dwight, that’s HIS team until he retires, he doesnt want Dwight and its pretty obvious that he’s going to get his wish.

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