Jackson spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum for an interview where many topics were discussed. Jackson said he is asked by some teams for some consultation type advice, and that one of those teams is the Lakers.
When asked an open-ended question about what he sees with the Lakers, Jackson brought up Howard.
“They just don’t put the ball in the post,” Jackson told McCallum. “They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight [Howard] just doesn’t get any touches. They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”
Jackson told McCallum that the Lakers should be getting the ball into Howard where he would be double-teamed, which would create open outside shots. He thinks Howard has the ability to dominate inside like Shaq.
“I think he can be (like Shaq),” Jackson told SI. “But he is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery. He needs a year to recover from something like that. He’s starting to come around, but he has a massive upper body to carry around. He’s a terrific athlete, but he still has to get all that back. He’s looking better all the time, but his problem right now is turnovers. He’s got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now.”
Though the criticism from Jackson has extra meaning since he was bypassed as head coach in favor of Mike D’Antoni, he did say in the interview that “it was nice to see” the Lakers improving. Still, it can’t feel comfortable for someone like D’Antoni to hear Jackson, who is much more accomplished, pointing out what he thinks is wrong with the team. You have to figure that on some level Jackson feels satisfaction that the Lakers have struggled.
As for his analysis of the Lakers, we agree. D’Antoni’s offense does not suit the strengths of this team. And though Howard clearly has not been at full strength, the team should have been concentrating on using him and Pau Gasol in the post more and working based on that. They haven’t, and they have struggled as a result.
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