Los Angeles Lakers: Who could be this year’s Dwight Howard?

(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers struck gold last season with Dwight Howard and could do it again with a new free agent.

The center position appeared to be in turmoil for the Los Angeles Lakers last season. DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL in an offseason workout and the Lakers were left with just JaVale McGee at the position.

The Lakers had to go out and sign the best-remaining player — Dwight Howard. The move was met with plenty of skepticism but Howard ended up panning out and being better than anyone could have anticipated.

Howard played a big role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship run, ironically making the last shot of the entire season for the Lakers — a deep three. Whether or not Howard stays with the team is currently unclear but the Lakers have the possibility to strike gold on another free agent this offseason.

And no, we are not talking about Cousins. We are talking about a free agent who was once really valuable in the league, like Howard and has seen his value plummet… for different reasons.

Andre Roberson could be this year’s Dwight Howard for the Los Angeles Lakers

Remember Andre Roberson? The Oklahoma City Thunder guard is a free agent this offseason. Don’t sweat if you did not remember that as Roberson has essentially fallen off the map. He has battled injury after injury, essentially missing all of the three-year contract that he signed before the 2017 season.

Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon during the 2017-18 season, only playing 39 games prior. He missed all of the 2018-19 season with various injury complications and would have missed all of the 2019-20 season as well.

However, the league’s delay allowed him to return to action before becoming a free agent. He played seven games in the Orlando bubble.

Roberson does not have much value on the free-agent market and the Los Angeles Lakers absolutely can sign him to a veteran minimum deal. That makes Roberson an extremely exciting risk to take.

Rob Pelinka should not be banking on Roberson playing a big role because of his injury history but adding him to the rotation and potentially allowing his role to grow throughout the season could be huge for the Lakers. If it pans out, he eventually will blossom into a playoff contributor that is getting decent minutes.

Because at his best, Roberson is one of the absolute-best perimeter/wing defenders in the league. At the time of his injury, Roberson led the entire NBA in defensive PIPM for the 2017-18 season.

He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team the season prior.

Roberson is not lethal offensively and is not a fantastic shooter but having him to come off the bench and play defense in key moments could be a huge addition for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is still only going to be 29 years old this season, so there is hope that he can rebound in his career.

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This is the one chance where the Lakers could legitimately add a top-20 defensive player on a minuscule contract. The risk is absolutely worth taking and if it does not pan out then it will not burn the team in any way. If it does, the Lakers get another surprise contributor, just like they did with Howard.