During the bulk of the offseason, star center Dwight Howard remained on the open market in free agency. However, an opportunity opened up with the Los Angeles Lakers, which he has strived in his second stint with the franchise. Howard has become a key piece in the frontcourt to the team’s success this season. He went from being on the outskirts of the league to proving that he has plenty left in the tank as part of a championship-contending team.
Dwight Howard’s resurgent 2019-20 campaign
Howard entered the 2019-20 season wit the Lakers with much uncertainty as he had no defined role. He had agreed to a non-guaranteed deal without any certainty that he would receive ample playing time.
Despite that, Howard has excelled off the bench as one of the primary pieces in the frontcourt. He is currently averaging 7.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting a career-high 73.7% from the floor in 19.7 minutes per game in 40 games played.
His big stat-stuffing performances have come far in between this season; he has made a sizable impact with his play defensively as a rim protector. He has also provided a significant amount of stability in the frontcourt that has been key in helping the Lakers get off to a strong start.
At the same time, he can still be a major factor, such as his 21 points and 15 rebounds in 25 minutes in the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. He can be a game-changer when needed, which has further sparked his resurgent campaign.
What Dwight Howard believes has fueled his season
It has been nothing short than an impressive campaign for Howard as he has fully embraced his new role in Los Angeles.
There was much doubt that he could accept let alone excel in that situation, which has become a key piece to the Lakers’ success. According to Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints, Howard credits that to his mental approach to the game centered on competing for an NBA title.
“I just felt like coming into this season, this was going to be our year. It was going to be our year and everybody had that same attitude. We’re going to work hard and prepare ourselves for a championship and every day we feel like that’s the championship. Every practice, every time we’re in the weight room, it’s always about a championship. That’s the mentality we want to have. We want to set a standard here in L.A. Every day is about winning a championship.”
The proof has been in the pudding as Howard has been the definition of team-first in his second tenure with the franchise. His presence and attitude have stayed on course for what he voiced back when the Lakers first signed him.
Howard has made the most of his opportunity in Los Angeles, and it has paid dividends to prove that he still has plenty left in the tank to play at a high level.
Lakers’ 2019-20 season outlook
The Lakers entered this season with hopes of competing for an NBA title, which the team has looked every bit of a squad that could make a deep run in the playoffs.
Los Angeles has been led by the stellar play of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but there have remained questions concerning adding another ballhandler to the roster. That has sprouted traded rumors around Kyle Kuzma, which the team has been mum on the situation.
The LA Clippers look like their toughest competition in the Western Conference as their Staples Center cotenants have taken the first two matchups this season. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference.
There is still plenty that can change in the coming months, but the Lakers will be in the title picture come playoff time.