Since rejoining the Los Angeles Lakers, former All-Star center Dwight Howard has put himself back on the map relevancy in the league. Howard has become a vital part of the Lakers’ frontcourt that has helped them get off to a strong start, holding the best mark in the Western Conference heading into the new year. His re-emergence has presented him with a unique opportunity that many didn’t envision occurring at this stage in his career.
Dwight Howard’s career rebirth with Lakers
In the months heading into the offseason, there was no clarity on the market for Howard, this time in free agency. He was coming off an injury-shortened season as he finished playing for his fourth team in as many years.
That further stained his reputation along with questions concerning his health, but an opportunity to play with the Lakers once again arose after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn ACL. His second go-around with the franchise is in a much different capacity as he’s coming off the bench in a secondary role to bring rebounding and defensive prowess to the frontcourt.
Howard has more than excelled in his reduced role as he’s been highly productive and effective, averaging 7.1 points, 6.8 rebounds while shooting 73.3% from the floor along with 1.4 blocks in 19.5 minutes per contest in 36 games played all off the bench. He has been a massive part in anchoring their defense with rim protection and overall awareness on that end of the floor.
He has also once again become a fan favorite, which is a bit of a surprise after how his first tenure in Los Angeles ended. Howard now has another exciting opportunity in front of him in the coming weeks.
Dwight Howard to participate in 2020 Slam Dunk contest
It’s been a few years since Howard has participated in the All-Star weekend in any fashion. Although he will likely not be back in the fold in the All-Star Game, he has another familiar opportunity presented to him this time around.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard has received and accepted an invitation to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest in Chicago. It will mark the first time that he has been in the event since 2009, as he participated for three consecutive years (2007-2009) and won it in 2008.
At this juncture, the field of fellow competitors is still up in the air as standout Memphis Grizzlies rookie point guard Ja Morant has received an invitation. Meanwhile, reports suggest that Miami Heat swingman Derrick Jones will also be back in the competition.
There is no word yet on who else will compete, but fans have continued to push to see Vince Carter back in the event to give it one final go around in his last NBA season. Past participants such as Donovan Mitchell and Aaron Gordon have been a bit hesitant to do it again.
Dwight Howard’s chances to win the Slam Dunk Contest
Things will be a bit different in his fourth time in the event as he’s several years older, which could change his philosophy on how to approach it. There should undoubtedly be input from his teammates as JaVale McGee also participated years back.
There is no telling what Howard will do, but the fact that he’s in the event brings back a notable name. The last several years have been lackluster with bringing in some of the more prominent names in the game, but he may be one of the early frontrunners to win it.
Moreover, his involvement is another clear indication that he’s back on the map of relevancy in the NBA while playing a crucial part for a potential championship-contending team.