Dwight Howard has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019-20 NBA season not only for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the NBA as a whole.
He has become a vital part of the rotation, thriving in his role as a defender, rebounder, and finisher at the rim.
One of the big reasons Howard has been successful is because of the shape he has gotten himself into this season. In his 16th season in the league, Howard looks as good as ever and it stands out. He has been able to contribute whenever the Lakers call his number.
Getting into such good shape was always the goal for Howard this summer — even before he became a Laker. In a recent interview with Fred Katz of The Athletic, Howard recalled speaking with Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard about exactly that:
“I told Tommy I was gonna lose 30 pounds and come back in the best shape of my life and we were gonna have a shot at winning a championship,” Howard told The Athletic. “That was my goal all summer, to lose weight and come back better than ever.”
Of course, a lot had to happen over the summer in order for Howard to end up back in Los Angeles. The unfortunate injury to DeMarcus Cousins gave the Lakers a need at center, but many forget that Howard was traded by the Washington Wizards in the offseason as well. At that point, all Howard could control was his own work:
“I didn’t know I was gonna get traded, but I was prepared for anything. … (Sheppard) called me. I guess they had already made the trade and he called me. And it was just like, you’re traded,” Howard said. “Nothing I could do at that point.”
Unlike the current situation with Andre Iguodala, the Memphis Grizzlies had no problems releasing Howard as they had no desire to keep him around with the young players they already on their roster. It all set the stage for Howard’s second stint with the Lakers.
None of these things would matter if Howard didn’t dedicate himself this offseason. At this stage of his career, Howard could be content to just coast along after a Hall of Fame career. Instead, he has become a key contributor to this Lakers team and will play a huge role in whether they reach their championship goals.