The Lakers pulled out a nail-biter over the San Antonio Spurs to improve their record to 5-1 on the season. Led by the strong play of LeBron James, who had another triple-double, as well as some key minutes from Dwight Howard off the bench, the Lakers were able to overcome a late surge by the Spurs that saw their 13 point halftime lead entirely erased with fewer than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
After the game, LeBron took a moment to praise Dwight’s strong play while elaborating on how he is adjusting to playing point guard on offense.
LeBron James Talks Dwight Howard & New Point Guard Role
James was quick to throw praise to Dwight, who has been nothing short of a revelation this season. Howard gave the lakers 14 points, 13 rebounds, and a pair of blocks in just 21 minutes. Playing a key role down the stretch as the Lakers held off the Spurs, James is clearly appreciative of the effort night in, night out that Dwight is bringing to the table.
Aside from praising his hard work on the glass, James explained how the defensive cohesion between the three players has been strong so far. The Davis-James-Howard lineup has been a handful defensively so far with Howard proving to be much more than simply a big body who sends back shots. Showing a strong awareness in pick and roll sets while playing passable defense when switched out onto the perimeter, Howard has been a versatile weapon on the defensive end so far.
James also went on to explain how he has been transitioning into his new role of point guard on offense. While he already leads the league in assists, James gave off the indication that he was still getting the feel of things while controlling the entire offense. James has always played the role of facilitator on offense but typically shared those playmaking responsibilities with a true point guard. Now fully unleashed to have the entire offense run through him, the results have been promising so far and look to only be getting better.
Dwight Howard’s Laker Renaissance
Back to Dwight, his play off the bench has been instrumental in every single one of the Lakers’ wins. Inconsistent play from the rest of the bench has been a theme so far this season but Howard has done an excellent job at providing at least one consistent threat off the bench.
Able to make an impact on both sides of the ball, Howard has put up some of the league’s strongest advanced metrics, sitting fourth in net rating and fifth in offensive rebounding percentage. The Lakers will need more steady play from Howard as they continue to work Kyle Kuzma – and eventually Rajon Rondo – back into the rotation.
Howard has been able to make a major impact despite playing extremely limited minutes. With Frank Vogel opting to try Anthony Davis at center in more lineups and with JaVale McGee still the nominal starter, Howard has only been seeing around 20 minutes per game. On a non-guaranteed contract, Howard has clearly been the value steal of the 2019 summer so far.