Los Angeles Lakers: 3 Big questions heading into the All-Star break

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
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Should Frank Vogel insert Dwight Howard into the starting lineup over JaVale McGee?

Most folks don’t think it matters who starts for the Lakers at the center position. It’s just semantics. Dwight Howard already averages more minutes per game than JaVale McGee, and “Superman” regularly closes games.

It does matter. Nearly every opposing squad in the NBA starts their best available center. That means right now, JaVale McGee spends the bulk of his minutes defending the top 5’s in the league. Dwight, on the other hand, plays the majority of his minutes against backup centers.

At the beginning of the season, you could make a case for JaVale McGee as the Lakers starting center. Now, more than halfway through the season, Dwight Howard is the better option. He’s gotten better as the season’s progressed, and he might be the strongest player in the NBA.

Plus, he’s starting to transform into a Dennis Rodman or Metta World Peace type of player. He’s changing into the sort of veteran who knows how to put a little extra something behind his screens. He’s learned how to grind on his assignment and wear him down physically. He’s becoming an irritant, the kind of player who you hate unless he’s on your team. These kinds of pros are rare, but they have been invaluable pieces to previous championship organizations.

Frank Vogel should start Dwight Howard. He should release “Superman” and let him bump and irritate the likes of Nikola Jokić , Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert, and Jonas Valančiūnas. Vogel must allow Howard to open games and get under his opponent’s skin and annoy them into early foul trouble. It will pay dividends throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

The Lakers have impressive chemistry. Frank Vogel doesn’t want to rock the boat, but if the boat doesn’t move at all, the Purple and Gold will never get to where they want to go. Every player from the opening day roster remains on the team. The atmosphere will remain jovial even if a few players see less action.

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It’s easy for JaVale McGee to swap roles with Dwight Howard. McGee will still get his minutes. Perhaps Rondo and Kuzma will feel a little salty after moving to the end of the bench, but they’ll remain on the squad. They can pull up their big boy pants and take one for the team. Next season, Rondo can shift into more of a coaching role, and Kuzma will have a chance to improve over the summer.