Coming off a season riddled with injuries and perennially surrounded by drama, Dwight Howard was far from a hot commodity this offseason. After being dealt to the Grizzlies, the eight-time all-star found himself being bought out – and even took a decent pay cut to help make it happen. Desperate for minutes to prove he can still play at a high level, Howard looks to have found his chance with the Lakers.
Commenting “redemption”, it seems Howard is hoping to have a better go-round with the team where his extremely public downfall began. After dominating in Orlando to start his career, Howard had a statistically okay season (led league in rebounds) for the Lakers though he struggled to perform when the team needed him most. Bolting after just a year, Howard earned the scorn of nearly every Lakers fan as he was brought in expected to take over as the face of the franchise as Kobe’s career wound down.
After the Lakers, Howard would go on to see his numbers (and minutes) shrink year after year. In large part due to the NBA shifting out of the post (also the circus that typically followed him throughout his career), Howard has struggled to find a strong fit and bounced from team to team following a three-year stint with the Rockets that ended in 2016.
Not expected to play nearly as significant of a role compared to the 2012-2013 season, Howard is essentially tasked with going out and playing to his strengths. A former three-time defensive player of the year, the Lakers need Howard to get up and protect the rim while scooping up rebounds and serving as a lob threat on offense. Howard has shown to be more than capable of doing these – and doing them at an elite level – throughout his entire career and assuming reports of his stellar physical shape are true, it looks like a Dwight-Lakers reunion could be mutually beneficial.
Dwight Howard Set to Play With New Number on Lakers
Howard will be shedding his longtime “D12” persona this time around for the Lakers, instead opting to wear #39 with the team. Perhaps indicative of wanting a fresh start, the more likely situation is the fact that Exhibit 10 player Devontae Cacok is already wearing 12 and the fact he’s on a non-guaranteed deal which pushes him further down the totem pole.
Despite the non-guaranteed deal, Howard looks to possibly be a major contributor for a Lakers team that is beyond desperate for frontcourt help following the injury to DeMarcus Cousins. While his deal is non-guaranteed and saves the Lakers considerable headache should things not pan out, both sides desperately need one another to work as Howard looks to prove he can still play and the Lakers wanting to avoid dipping into a barren free agency pool of replacement big men.
With all that said, it should be interesting to see just what “D39” has left in the tank.