One of the best stories from the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019-20 NBA season has been the redemption arc of Dwight Howard.
Howard spent nearly a decade bouncing from team to team after putting up future Hall of Fame numbers when he was teamed up with JJ Redick, Jameer Nelson, and others on the Orlando Magic — a team that made it all the way to the 2009 NBA Finals with him leading the way.
Howard finally found a home in Los Angeles this season after his first unsuccessful stint with them followed by the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards. Now, he’s one of the most talked-about big men in the league as he and JaVale McGee have formed perhaps the best one-two punch at center in the NBA.
Redick, who spent six seasons with Howard, has been particularly impressed with what he’s seen from the 34 year old, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic:
“For him to accept that role and thrive in that role that’s he’s in right now says a lot about his growth as a person, as a player,” said J.J. Redick, who spent six seasons with Howard in Orlando. “Just a ton of respect for him and what he’s doing right now.”
What stands out to Redick the most is not the stats, but rather Howard’s ability to be an impactful role player off the bench after years of demanding to be more than that:
“He’s been a guy that’s always put up great numbers,” Redick said, “but I think he’s having an impact in a really meaningful way defensively on the boards, screening, rolling to the boards.”
Redick has really been the definition of a role player in the NBA and has done it on a number of contending teams, so he knows a good role player when he sees one. And that’s exactly what Howard has been.
Howard is averaging career lows across the board but has been one of the team’s most consistently good players all season long. Over the past 10 seasons, Howard would’ve never been okay with this type of role, but this is a far different Howard the NBA is seeing.