One concern about the Los Angeles Lakers coming into the 2019-20 NBA season was the team’s overall depth.
Though it hasn’t always been great, the bench has done enough to keep the Lakers afloat for their All-Star players to take over down the stretch and Howard has been a major component of that. While they have struggled offensively, they’ve been able to provide just enough while also maintaining the team’s defensive identity.
Howard has been a major part of that and has been arguably the biggest surprise of the Lakers season so far. He is proud of his bench unit and following their win over the San Antonio Spurs, even attempted to nickname the second squad, via Kyle Goon of Orange County Register:
Dwight Howard tried to coin a nickname for the Lakers' second unit tonight: "The Bad News Bears. Not the Bad News Bears in a bad way, but 'we're gonna bring bad news to the other team.' That type of bad news."
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) November 4, 2019
The name might need some tinkering but the thought is there. For those unaware, The Bad News Bears was a 1976 movie (remade in 2005) about a youth baseball team comprised of the kids no one wanted on the other teams in the league that ultimately came together to nearly win the championship.
This bench undoubtedly is comprised of some castoffs with Howard chief among them. Players like Caruso, Quinn Cook, and Troy Daniels have bounced around the NBA and G-League, while Jared Dudley is on his sixth team in seven seasons. However, that hasn’t stopped them from contributing when it counts.
Howard and Caldwell-Pope both made huge plays down the stretch against the Spurs, while Caruso has given the team a big spark in multiple contests as well.
The team’s second unit is far from the best bench in the league — especially offensively — though Kyle Kuzma getting healthy should help with that.
But it does embody the mindset of this team as a tough, defensive-oriented squad. Howard’s nickname suggestion might need some work, but it isn’t completely inaccurate.