Wasn’t too long ago when Howard was with Lakers back in the 2012-2013 season. At that time, there was much anticipated hype with a prime Dwight Howard joining Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to make a deep playoff run. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out and Howard left the Lakers on a sour note. Back and shoulder injuries derailed Howard and the inability to really gel with Kobe made for a not so good season.
Fast forward to today, and things have turned around for Howard, who’s been a journeyman ever since leaving the Lakers almost 7 years ago. Howard, who’s had very playful demeanor during his youth, now has a more serious outlook at the game of basketball. Of course maturity has a lot to do with that, but it’s more about being humbled in his NBA career. Once a player starts going from team to team in a short period of time, they start to be recognized as an expendable asset. When DeMarcus Cousins suffered an injury that might force him to miss the season, the Lakers started to look at replacements at center. It was a surprise that Howard’s name came about, but he took his interview and workouts seriously. Other Lakers players also had a talk with him, and what he could contribute to the team.
I was skeptical at first to what Howard could actually bring to the Lakers, and whether or not he still had some athleticism left in him. In this early season, Howard I’m pleased to say, has impressed me so far. His tenacity on defense and energy off the bench has really kept the Lakers in games when James or Davis aren’t on the floor. He’s also getting offensive boards which gives the Lakers second opportunities. As we speak, Howard is averaging 7 points per game, 2.3 blocks per game, 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 71% from the field. Those are extremely solid stats and gives the Lakers some needed production off the bench. Howard isn’t as athletic as he once was during his youth, but it’s just enough and it’s what the Lakers have needed. Howard is thriving because of one reason. He has finally accepted his role as a bench player plain and simple. He hasn’t once complained and just goes out and does whatever it takes for the team to win. It’s something that has changed him for the better, and in his second stint with the Lakers, he’s once again becoming a fan favorite with his hustle and work.