When the Los Angeles Lakers took a flier on Dwight Howard with a non-guaranteed deal, it was partially head coach Frank Vogel’s call to see if he was someone who could add value to the team.
Vogel wouldn’t want to deal with a troublesome personality if there was no way of seeing the Lakers improve on the court.
Luckily, through the beginning segment of the 2019-20 NBA season, it seems that Howard might be one of the league’s biggest bargains as he has been able to turn his career around in an unexpected way to become one of their most valuable role players. Vogel knew that if Howard could accept his role, then this would have a possibility of happening, but he also knew that was easier said than done.
Vogel also said that Howard had all the talent to be successful, but lacked the discipline needed. He said that if Howard could learn the discipline from him and keep the talent, then there’s no reason he couldn’t be one of the team’s most important players, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic:
“Just from a basketball perspective, I felt like he was very talented but played without a lot of discipline, particularly on the defensive end,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “And I felt like I could help with that, I felt like our coaching staff could help with that, bring back some of the discipline to his game. He came to us in a good place from a standpoint of wanting to change his game and accept any role that we present to him. We presented a role that was different than what he’s had in those places offensively and not so much defensively, other than improving the discipline. And what I felt we could do with him has played out on the basketball court so far.”
Howard coming on to the team open to a new role was an obvious good sign of things to com, and Vogel likely knew at that point that he could coach him into learning that discipline.
Clearly, the signing worked out great and if Howard can sustain even a majority of this level of play, he’ll be a huge help for the Lakers when the 2020 NBA playoffs comes around.
Having a center who can block shots, grab rebounds, and provide a spark of energy off the bench is extremely valuable in the playoffs, and Howard has found nothing but success in that role.