Dwight Howard

Over the years the Lakers have never had their greatness doubted as much as they had earlier in the season. Greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson have worn the famous purple and yellow stripes. In more recent years the Lakers enjoyed a large period of success with the combination of the perfect big man/small man duo in Shaq and Kobe, under the management of Phil Jackson.

This season was supposed to be the start of another era in Laker’s illustrious history; the passing of the torch from Kobe to Dwight Howard, whilst enjoying a star trio (the two aforementioned superstars along with Steve Nash) that could rival that of Lebran, D-Wade and Bosh of the Miami Heat. This season, however, has not gone to plan and the Lakers’ have only just recently discovered the kind of form that they need to display in order to get to the Playoffs.

In this article I will look at the players who are the most vital to this Playoff run…

4. Earl Clark

Earl Clark

The early season first team starters of Kobe, Howard, Nash, MWP and Gasol are all over the age of 30, so when Earl Clark announced himself to the Laker faithful he shone like a light of youthful exuberance.

Against one the most consistent teams in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, Clark had his break-through game when he scored 22 points and recorded 13 rebounds in 27 minutes of play back in January of this year.

A spate of injuries to Lakers big men -  which saw Dwight, Pau and Jordan Hill all on the treatment table at one time or another – served only to increase Clark’s playing time.

However Clark has come into the team and his impressive form in the last 2 months especially saw Pau dropped to the bench, and trying to make an impact as Lakers 6th man similar to the effect the likes of Crawford and J.R. Smith have in that role for the Clippers and Knicks respectively.

With Gasol currently out again with another injury, Clark’s first team status in currently assured. The former-Orlando man must step up his game to yet another level and get more consistency in his point-scoring and rebounding, with his form of January and February struggling to be replicated in the month of March. If Clark finds this consistency, then he will be an important Laker for many years to come.

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This article was first posted on March 11, 2013