One of Dwight Howard‘s many stops before his redemption 2019-20 NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers was the Atlanta Hawks.
Howard teamed up with Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, and others for one season in Atlanta — one that many thought would be great for him as he returned to his home city. And there ended up being some truth to this.
Howard and the Hawks had a decent season going 43-39 and landing the Eastern Conference’s No. 5 seed, eventually losing in the first round to the Washington Wizards. However, the fit between Howard and the team never truly felt right and the Hawks traded him to the Charlotte Hornets. Now that Howard is playing some of the most impactful basketball of his career, his former teammates from that time had some high praise.
Millsap and Bazemore recently spoke highly of their former teammate, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic:
Said Paul Millsap, who started alongside Howard in the Atlanta frontcourt in 2016-17: “It’s always tough when a guy who’s used to averaging 20 and 10 has to take a role coming off the bench. It’s tough for anybody, (but) for him to figure it out like that, man, kudos to him and it’s a great thing for him.”
Bazemore commented on how Howard managed to undo a label placed on him, something that is nearly impossible to do in sports:
Said another ex-Hawks teammate, Kent Bazemore: “You’re looking at a guy that just wanted another chance to prove everyone wrong. Once you get a label in this league it’s tough to undo that, and he’s quietly going about his business and having a great year.”
It’s great to see former teammates of Howard show love for the development he’s had this late in his career. It’s rare that at 34 years old, a player completely changes their approach to the game and their attitude surrounding it and becomes an instant X-factor on a championship-contending roster.
Howard has been willing to do whatever it takes to help the Lakers this season, and it’s led to several wins that have contributed to their No. 1 seeding. If Howard can be this trustworthy in the 2020 NBA playoffs, there’s no telling what the Lakers could do.