The NBA announced the recipient of this season’s Sixth Man of the Year Award with Los Angeles Clippers explosive big man Montrezl Harrell edging out Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder to capture the honor.
The L.A. Lakers were present on the ballot as well, with Dwight Howard garnering a single third-place vote from the media panel. Howard was one of the biggest surprises on the team without a doubt.
Picked up following an offseason injury to DeMarcus Cousins, Howard thrived in his role as a physical presence off the bench. Considering how Howard left the Lakers years ago, no one could have predicted he would ever return, let alone have the impact he did.
Head coach Frank Vogel couldn’t be happier with Howard shining in the role he envisioned for him this season. “We want to be the most physical team in the NBA, and obviously he sets a great tone with his physicality,” Vogel said.
“Having a guy like Dwight accept the role as a backup center and come in and just impact the game with the minutes he’s given, to be a star in his role, that’s sort of been a mantra for our team this year. You have two obvious All-Stars and two of the best players in the world, but we need other players to star in their roles. Dwight has excelled in that.”
Howard has undoubtedly been one of the most consistent Lakers reserves and ranks in the top-5 among bench players in both rebounds and blocks. What’s most important for Howard is that he hasn’t tried to play outside of himself, and has simply embraced his role as a rebounder, shot blocker and finisher at the rim.
As the Lakers continue on their push toward a championship, Howard will be relied upon to be a force in the paint on both ends of the floor. As someone with NBA Finals experience, the stage certainly won’t be too big for him.
Vogel prepared to use more ‘creativity’
With the Lakers in the heart of a playoff push, there is no doubt that Vogel will need to be at his best to help them accomplish their ultimate goal. Vogel has at times faced criticism for being too predictable and not making the proper adjustments, but he is prepared to use some more creativity in this run.
“For sure. We’ve had more meetings about those things than actually working on them in practice,” Vogel noted.
With the Lakers having faced Houston in the seeding games prior to their second-round matchup, Vogel seems to have some tricks up his sleeve to make sure the Lakers come out on top.
“We were still competing to win those games,” he added. “But you get into a seven-game playoff series, there are so many more things you can be creative with on both sides of the ball that you wouldn’t see in a regular season game or seeding game.”
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