Many believed that Howard had nothing left in the tank after his last few seasons that were filled with injuries and struggles when on the court.
Howard has proved many wrong and his play has been one of the best stories in the NBA this season. Howard has shown that he can still make an impact in a major way while also becoming one of the most beloved teammates on the roster. Most importantly, Howard has completely bought into his role as a defender, rebounder, and finisher at the rim.
This is exactly what Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was looking for when they decided to bring him in as he spoke about to Bill Oram of The Athletic:
“We had a feeling that if he was going to buy into a role we laid out for him, and he was set on board for buying into that role, that we felt like he could be a tremendous piece for us,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It was an exciting thing, bringing him on board and hoping that it would play out as we expected. But this is what we hoped for when we signed him.”
While Howard’s play on the court has been amazing, his standing as a teammate is worth noting as well. It is something that has long been questioned about Howard in his career and Troy Daniels witnessed it firsthand while the two were teammates with the Houston Rockets. Daniels noted the major differences in Howard between then and now:
“He cares more about the team than himself now,” Daniels said in November. “When I played with him in Houston, it was about him or, ‘Where can I get the ball?’ or ‘I need the ball more’, stuff like that. … (Now) he’s always trying to make sure everybody else is good, and it translates over to him playing well on the court and everybody supporting him. You can really tell it’s like night and day.”
One of the best things about this Lakers team is the chemistry between everyone. It is clear that these players truly love being around each other and one bad personality could fracture that.
Many would have bet on Howard being someone who could destroy that chemistry but instead, he’s become one of the driving forces behind it.