Weeks before the 2019-20 NBA season officially starts, the Los Angeles Lakers and 29 other teams in the league have already begun their training camps. Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel admitted that, as of now, the team still doesn’t have an official starting lineup, saying that LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the only confirmed starters at this point. With Davis expected to spend most of the regular season at the power forward position, the battle for the starting center will be between JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.
The starting center position became open after DeMarcus Cousins suffered an injury that will force him to miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season. Having an All-Star caliber big man who can knock down shots from beyond the arc like Cousins would have been a huge help for the Lakers and their goal to fully dominate the Western Conference and win the NBA championship title. However, though they aren’t floor-spacing big men like Cousins, Vogel currently has nothing but praise for McGee and Howard.
In a recent interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Vogel revealed that McGee and Howard are the players that impressed him the most in their recent practice sessions.
“JaVale’s performing at a really high level,” Vogel said. “Dwight Howard has been all business since he came in this time around. We’re asking our whole group to have a seriousness about ourselves. He’s been an all-business type of guy. It’s really helped us to be focused and working on the task at hand.”
Like Vogel, Davis also likes what he’s seeing from his potential frontcourt partners. Davis believes that sharing the frontcourt with either Howard or McGee will make it harder for opposing teams to score in the paint.
“We’ve been on the same team — me and JaVale or Dwight and I — I think every scrimmage yet,” Davis said. “It’s the same. It’s hard to score. Or JaVale and Dwight [together], it’s hard to score against us in the paint. So my role doesn’t change.”
Their performance in the ongoing training camp will be vital for both big men, especially for Howard. While McGee received a two-year, $4.2 million deal from the Lakers in the 2019 NBA free agency, Howard’s current contract is still non-guaranteed. If he becomes consistent with his performance and proves that he’s no longer cancer in the locker room, however, there’s a strong chance that Howard will get a formal contract from the Lakers before the start of the 2019-20 season.