Obviously, Howard’s original stint with the Lakers didn’t go as planned but he has been adamant that he has grown and changed since that time.
One of the biggest changes is the expectations the Lakers have for him. They need him to focus on defense, rebounding, and finishing at the rim and Howard apparently has gotten some inspiration from a player he — and many others — don’t really care for around the league in Draymond Green.
In a Stadium interview with Shams Charania, Howard spoke about how he used to dislike Green, but has come to respect his game:
“I hated Draymond. I’m like, ‘This dude is [expletive].’ But I sat back this year and really watched everything he did. I was really impressed.”
Howard noted how Green does all of the little things the Golden State Warriors need depending on the situation. While not as skilled as Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, Green is the heart of the Warriors and Howard took notice of that. His ability to make plays on both sides of the ball and affect the game in different ways is something that Howard will look to imitate with the Lakers.
Howard understands his role with the team and has continually said that he will do whatever the Lakers need him to do, as he explained in an earlier interview with Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet:
“They want me to be the best person I can be for this team. Defense, dominating the boards, dominating my position, helping everybody out, and talking. On offense, picking and rolling which is something that I think has been a misconception with a lot of people. They think that I hate picking and rolling or something like that. But whatever this team needs me to do, we’re going to do it.”
The opportunity for Howard will be there. Regardless of whether he or JaVale McGee starts, he will play a big role as a needed rim protector and overall defender as well as a rim runner on offense. Howard doesn’t need to be an All-Star player on this team — just an effective role player.
Green is a great example for what Howard could bring. He won’t be the level of creator or playmaker of Green, but the defense, screens, and energy is something he should be able to bring in spades and that will make a huge difference for the 2019-20 NBA season.