Howard was never brought in to play a major role for the Lakers as the starting job far and away belonged to JaVale McGee.
However, through just three games to begin the 2019-20 NBA season, Howard is starting to change some minds. Howard has been playing absolutely stellar basketball and is doing exactly what the team needs of him to be successful. This was encapsulated in a double-double performance in 23 minutes in a win against the Charlotte Hornets.
Howard was brought in to play a role and help the team win, and that’s exactly what his goal is as well. In fact, winnning a championship is his only goal with the Lakers this time around.
“It’s only one goal, it’s only one mission, and that’s to win the championship,” Howard said. “In order to do that, every second, every minute is championship basketball.”
“Whether it’s in the weight room, the training room, everything is championship so hopefully we’ll just continue this statement of who we are and just continue to believe,” Howard said of his work ethic. “I believe we can make something really, really special. Every moment counts, so that’s how I try to approach it.”
Howard has said words like this before, but it feels like — in this stint with the Lakers — his actions are actually matching. That’s something that’s been missing in almost every stop along the way since leaving the Orlando Magic after the 2011-12 season.
If Howard can play at a high energy level and simply be a strong presence defensively, he doesn’t need to score 16 points. All he needs to do as a member of the Lakers is be solid in the paint with defense and rebounding and his contract will have been well worth it.
Howard has even been playing well enough to justify taking McGee’s spot in the starting lineup. While he’s been playing great basketball in the role he’s been given, it may be worth taking a shot on him in the starting lineup early in the season.
If it works, then the Lakers have figured out another way to be successful in what could be a championship season.
If not, the Lakers can return to McGee in the starting lineup and Howard off the bench. Either way, it seems Howard will be ready for any challenge.