One of the biggest strengths of the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019-20 NBA season is their size.
The trio of Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard provides rim protection unlike any other team in the NBA and without a doubt the biggest — and most pleasant — surprise has been the play of Howard.
No player has done more to rehab their image this season than Howard, who has not only become an extremely important piece of the rotation but has erased the disdain that Lakers fans carried for him for numerous seasons. He’s become so popular that he remains in the top-10 of fan voting for the Western Conference frontcourt players and will take part in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been more than satisfied with Howard so far this season and says the signing has played out just how he anticipated, according to Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times:
“Off to a great start,” coach Frank Vogel said. “I felt like we’ve always had a connection from conversations we’ve had where we were both opponents to each other, and I felt like it was going to be a good fit. And when we met with him this summer, that I could be an influential coach for him, and that he could bring his skill set and if he accepted the right role, could really help us. All of that has played out in the way that I anticipated so far.”
Howard’s averages may not jump off the page, but he is a major part of the team’s success and has been invaluable so far this season. While McGee and Davis provide more length and athleticism, Howard is the strongest of their big man trio, making him the best option for some of the league’s bigger and stronger centers. His personality has also fit in well with the team and his teammates truly find joy in his success.
Howard’s reputation had taken such a hit around the league that he was not only willing but suggested signing a non-guaranteed deal in 2019 NBA free agency when the Lakers needed a replacement following the DeMarcus Cousins injury. That contract has since become guaranteed and there was never any question about that taking place as Howard has more than earned his spot on this team and Vogel’s rotation.