Three NBA superstars are injured or aren’t really sure if they’re injured or not. One star is Dwight Howard, who is suffering from a herniated disc. Kobe Bryant suffering from a bruised left shin. And Derrick Rose who seems to miss every other game with an ankle sprain. Without these stars these teams have varied in success. The Chicago Bulls; arguably the deepest team in the NBA are 16-7 without Derrick Rose. The Lakers are 4-1 without Kobe Bryant and the Orlando Magic are 1-4 without Dwight. Although these records show the depth and balance (or lack there of… Magic) of these marquee teams, they mean nothing come playoff time regarding the most valuable superstar. Each star has a case, so let’s weigh through them.
Bulls without Derrick Rose:
The Bulls are arguably the deepest team in the league, and surprisingly nobody saw this coming. We knew what Gibson, Asik and Korver could do. But did we ever think CJ Watson, Mike James, or John Lucas III would provide the Bulls with a reliable bench. Nope. That’s the nice thing about the Bulls bench, they are mysterious, and we never really know which player will show up and step up. Even in their starting line-up they have players who can step up at any time. Players like Rip Hamilton, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng. The problem with this team without Rose is the lack of a closer. Boozer can’t create his own shot, Noah can’t…. play offense. Rip may be limited in his attacks to the basket, so the team looks upon the British shoulders of the unsung all star Luol Deng. He’s not a consistent closer, but he’ll do in the regular season. When the playoffs come around, Chicago can forget it. In a playoff series without Rose this team could grab 1 or 2 wins based solely on defense and hustle points, but that’s as far as their journey would take them.
Lakers without Kobe Bryant:
This team is quite interesting without Kobe. They’re 4-1 and it almost seems like Kobe is just as effective as a coach then he is on the floor. Even off the court, his wisdom and IQ of the game have an impact on his teammates. Another aspect of this team is that they have a budding superstar in Bynum and an all-star in Pau Gasol. Without Kobe on the floor, the offense flows solely through their twin towers. There is more space for Bynum to isolate and attack other bigs. Remember the league right now isn’t known for it’s big centers. Besides Howard, Hibbert and Chandler the NBA lacks tall centers who could stop Bynum. They differ from the Bulls and Magic because the supporting cast has two stars and have players with more experience to the playoffs and to the finals. Without Bryant their depth does plummet though, Matt Barnes has to start and then the bench isn’t as consistent. Kobe Bryant’s input is incomparable, and the Lakers have the challenge of making up 28 points every game, but without Kobe the Lakers are an interesting team and can be an upset type of team. That can jump out of nobody and become a threat in the West.
Magic without Howard:
Effortless. Lackluster. I invite anybody reading this to come up with some more negative comments about this team without Howard. Honestly, comment with APPROPRIATE criticisms and you’ll probably be right. The only reason this team is successful season in and season out is a mixture of two things. One, the influence Dwight Howard has on the defensive end and on the boards. And two, the three point shooting percentage of the inconsistent shooters surrounding Howard. Other then those factors this team is no better then Milwaukee, or Sacramento. They don’t hustle, there just doesn’t seem to be any energy, any excitement to be playing basketball on this team. And now that Dwight isn’t in the middle, and Hedo is out for the rest of the season, the Magic are frankly terrible. Nobody in that line-up likes to play defense, and the only reason they are such a good defensive team with Howard is because when the offense beats the perimeter defenders they choke when they see Howard awaiting his umpteenth block. So yeah, I think without Howard the Magic are nothing magical. (Get what I did there?)
So to round of this discussion, we can conclude with the Magic are atrocious without Howard, the Lakers can still be a semi-threat and the Bulls can still win a game here and there off of their suffocating defense. If your ideas differ, then comment with who you think is the Most Valuable Star. And hey, when you’re at it, subscribe. Just hit that button, you know. Never hurt anyone, I won’t let ya down. Until next time…