We've got some big rotation news out of Lakerland tonight!
According to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Lakers will employ a new starting center tomorrow against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Reserve Dwight Howard will be promoted to the starting slot tomorrow, per LA head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel added his intention to only use one of LA's two veteran centers in future games this season, suggesting that just one of Howard or former starter DeAndre Jordan will be in street clothes on game nights. It is unclear if a determination will be made on which center will start from night to night or if Howard will be the starting center going forward.
This also speaks to Vogel's push to prioritize Anthony Davis-centric small ball lineups, featuring AD jumping center. Given how successful these lineups generally are, and how effective Davis appears to be on his natural position of the five, this makes a ton of sense to this report.
Howard, 35, is averaging 5.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks in just 14.7 minutes a night. These are fairly modest sums, but what the stats don't reveal is that the 6'9" Howard remains a surprisingly mobile rim protector.
Given Vogel's proclivity to prioritize AD-at-the-five looks, it's likely that Howard's minutes won't get much of an uptick.
During his first stint in the Purple and Gold, back when he was still the best center in the NBA, Howard started all 76 of games in the ill-fated 2012-13 season, on a team that boasted four future Hall of Fame players and zero playoff game victories. When he returned to LA for the team's 2019-20 championship run, Howard was no longer in his athletic prime, but proved to be a valuable reserve (he started in just two of his 69 contests with the club that seaso). Now, in his 18th NBA season, the former D12 has clawed his way back into the starting five. For now, anyway.