Initially mocked over the offseason, the (second) pairing of Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers has gone much better than expected. Though not in the starting lineup or averaging a double-double on a nightly basis, Howard has provided a much-needed spark off the bench and has excelled in the defense/rebounding role the Lakers have placed him in.
Coming off his best game of the short season where he poured in 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks against the Grizzles, Howard seems to be much more comfortable both with himself and the overall situation in Los Angeles this time around.
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Dwight Howard’s Impressive Stat Shows Value of Lakers’ Free Agent Signing
To quantify just how valuable he has been, Howard owns a +57 total plus/minus through the Lakers’ first four games. Not only is that good for best on the team but Howard owns the third-highest total plus/minus of any player in the NBA. Trailing only the Raptors’ pair of OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet for the top spot, Howard has played one fewer game and averages nearly half the minutes VanVleet and Anunoby see on a nightly basis.
While plus/minus is heavily dependent on who a player shares the court with, Howard passes the eye test as well. Seemingly providing a jolt of energy whenever he checks into the game, Dwight has been a lockdown defender while helping to control the flow of the game with his elite rebounding ability.
Brought onto the team with a non-guaranteed veteran minimum contract, Howard is providing some of the best value in the league relative to his cost. In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury over the offseason, the Lakers took a shot on Howard and that seems to be paying off. While things are still early, if Howard continues to play at this level the Lakers will be extremely difficult to beat and Howard will almost certainly get paid in the offseason.
Dwight Howard Set to Play Key Role in Next Game Against Dallas Mavericks
The Lakers will need another strong performance from Dwight Howard off the bench (assuming he hasn’t usurped the starting spot) against the Mavericks. Though the Mavericks’ starting duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis should be able to help them at least tread water, their depth in the frontcourt is relatively thin. They lack an athletic center with true size and both Maxi Klieber and Dwight Powell should struggle to contain Howard on the glass.
If Howard can come out rebounding hard and defending the rim once again, the Lakers have a big opportunity to gouge the Mavericks’ second unit and open up a sizeable lead while Doncic and Porzingis rest. Even if Howard moves into the starting lineup, he should still see plenty of run with the second unit as he has been incredibly successful with them so far. The Lakers’ timeshare at center isn’t going anywhere though early on, Howard has been clearly outplaying Mcgee and a move to the starting lineup seems to be a very realistic move.