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August 26, 2019

Lakers players asked Dwight Howard if he can be trusted to guard Sixers' Joel Embiid

The Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers are among the most strongly-favored championship contenders heading in the 2019-2020 season.

Predictions and projections of this sort always come with the "barring injury" caveat, which already set the Lakers back this offseason when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn ACL earlier this month.

In need of another backup center, Los Angeles turned to former Laker Dwight Howard, who's been a journeyman for several years during the back end of his NBA career.

As it turns out, the Lakers had Joel Embiid specifically in mind as they evaluated whether bringing back Howard was a smart decision, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

"One of the questions that Lakers players asked Dwight Howard in their meeting was, 'Can we trust you to guard the likes of Joel Embiid and other top centers in one-on-one match-ups?'" Charania said. 

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That the Lakers singled out Embiid just goes to show how much his presence is felt across the NBA landscape. While Embiid's career is on the way up and Howard's is winding down, that doesn't mean the veteran won't be a difficult assignment for Embiid, should they meet in the NBA Finals. 

Two seasons ago, while Howard was with the Charlotte Hornets, Embiid struggled to keep pace. Howard put up 30 points and six rebounds to Embiid's 18 and five in a game in March. The Sixers won, sure, but they were forced to rely on scoring from the rest of their starting unit and bench. 

General manager Elton Brand rounded out the Sixers' lineup this summer to ensure Embiid will have enough support around him to take some nights off, defer a bit more offensively and be healthy enough to contribute at full strength when it's playoff time. 

Based on the Lakers' evaluation process, it appears the rest of the league has taken notice.