One of the biggest storylines of the 2019-20 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers has easily been the resurgence of Dwight Howard.
Howard became public enemy No. 1 following his departure in 2013 NBA free agency after an underwhelming stint in Los Angeles and largely struggled to find his footing with every team he has been on ever since. As a result, he made headlines when he opted to make his return this offseason on a prove-it deal by signing a non-guaranteed deal.
It is safe to say it was a bit of a risk for Howard, but he has now emerged as quite the bargain for the Lakers with his efforts thus far. To top it all off, he has become a fan favorite thanks to his charismatic approach both on and off the court.
Although Howard’s reputation took a hit prior to his arrival, teammates like Kyle Kuzma have been able to witness firsthand what he brings to the table for a team with championship expectations, according to Helene Elliott of Los Angeles Times:
“I think a lot of times in the league, you get MO’s about you. People came and said he was a bad teammate and did all this, but he’s been amazing. An amazing teammate,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said.
Kuzma added that Howard’s selflessness has been one of the biggest qualities that have stood out to him:
“Always team first, looking to help guys, pull guys aside. He doesn’t really care about himself. He has no ego. It’s very rare, especially for someone that’s like him, probably a future Hall of Famer. He’s done a lot in his career. But he’s been amazing.”
There is no question that Howard boasts a bonafide Hall of Fame resume as an eight-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA first team, and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Regardless, Kuzma’s comments indicate that he is now doing whatever he can to ensure that he adds an NBA ring to his impressive trophy case.
Howard has established an integral role for himself off the bench as the anchor of the defense and a rebound maven on both ends of the floor. When he is not playing, he then becomes the team’s biggest cheerleader anytime one of his teammates comes up with a highlight play.
Having the support of a proven player like Howard helps pay huge dividends for a young player like Kuzma that is still trying to establish a rhythm on offense. It is encouraging to see the two share quite the rapport as it will go a long way for this second group once Anthony Davis makes his return.