The Lakers’ newly acquired big man remains a familiar name to plenty of Los Angeles fans.
But for those in need of a Chris Kaman introduction, he brings many different qualities than Dwight Howard.
First, the bad.
Kaman hardly fits the defensive prowess that Howard possessed when he won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award three in the past five seasons. Kaman doesn’t even match up to Howard when he was limited last season because of a surgically repaired back, and, the Lakers suspect, inconsistent effort led to diminished athleticism and mobility. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks let Kaman walk after one season partly because of his defense.
“Defensively I’m a completely different player,” Kaman said. “He’s an above-the-rim player. I can’t play above the rim. He’s been the defensive player of the year multiple times. It’s just a whole different style of basketball. He can just go up there and wait for the ball to come up to him and swat it. It’s completely different.”
Now, the good.
Howard has been considered the league’s best center because his athleticism allows him to overpower people. But Kaman bodes superior in his willingness to play pick-and-roll, post moves and reliable mid-range jumper. Not surprisingly, Kaman’s career 74.4 percent mark from the free throw line trumps Howard’s 57.7 percent clip. All those ingredients ensured Kaman averaging a career 11.8 points and eight rebounds and a lone All-Star appearance in his 10-year career, including eight seasons with the Clippers.
Those qualities should also help Kaman mesh well with Pau Gasol, who became confined last season to a facilitator role along the perimeter partly because of Howard’s limited mid-range game.
“I’m a similar player as Pau. I think I’m inside and outside like he is,” Kaman said. “I think he’s expanded his game as well. He shot some threes last year. I don’t know if I’m going to do that. But I think I complement his game well. We’ll see how it goes. Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes things work out great. You never can tell what happens.”