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Dwight Howard on the Lakers' inability to generate consistent pick-and-roll success.
On paper, the trio of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni should produce pick-and-roll magic. On reality, it's often been pick-and-roll mush. So what's the problem? After Monday's practice in El Segundo, the topic was broached to all three principals. (In case you missed them, earlier Sulia posts have featured D'Antoni's and Nash's thoughts.)
"Teams play the pick-and-roll differently than they would play, say, Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill or somebody," said Howard. "They understand that my number one objective is to screen, get out of the screen as quick as possible, then get deep position. A lot of teams, they stay with my body, push up over the screen, and allow the guards to get back to Steve or they just trap Steve as soon as possible to get the ball out of his hands and everybody else is in the paint. So it seems like it would be super easy for our pick-and-rolls right now, but we just have to figure out how to play through each other off the pick-and-rolls."
Howard recalled how Miami mixed up pick-and-roll coverages. He also noted how his Orlando teams surrounded him with shooters, placing serious pressure on opponents. Both valid points.
Still, to my eye (and the eyes of many media colleagues) Howard's appeared oddly reluctant towards pick-and-roll. He's made a point of describing himself as a low post player. His screens are often set halfheartedly, beyond what's expected from a "slip." And he simply appears less interested in starting possessions with a high screen rather than on the low block.
I asked Howard about that perception, and was issued a flat denial.
"I think all season long I've been running it and setting screens for Steve and for Kobe and those guys," answered Howard. "So it's not like I just run down to the block and just stay there. I have not done that once. I understand what we're trying to do out of the pick-and-roll. It just hasn't been very effective... We're playing against those quick, big guards and they've been trying to do the best they can of making Steve work for everything. So, it's been a little difficult, but we'll figure it out."
For what it's worth, Howard emphasized the importance of figuring it out.
"It should be a deadly weapon. The pick-and-roll with me and Kobe or me and Steve should be deadly. It hasn't been as effective every night as we'd like it to be, but it takes time and we just gotta continue to work on it in practice and in games and hopefully it gets better."