This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers built a roster primed to compete for an NBA Championship.
The Lakers added DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker. This was on top of a group that already included LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
And then DeMarcus Cousins got hurt in a pickup basketball game during the offseason, tearing his ACL.
That was a huge loss. Boogie averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals in 30 regular-season games last season. The former Golden State Warrior, New Orleans Pelican and Sacramento Kings big man who got married this summer was on the rise despite tearing his quad during the NBA Playoffs.
For those keeping score at home: He still inding a played in 14 NBA Playoff games including the NBA Finals.
In Cousins’ place, the Lakers signed Dwight Howard. An eight-time NBA All-Star, Howard has averaged 17.4 points and 12.6 rebounds throughout his career. Along with being the first pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Howard is an Olympic gold medalist. He helped lead the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals where they were defeated by the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers.
“He’s obviously got that championship DNA in him,” Lakers guard, Danny Green told me.
“He’s learning how to win, be more professional, he was already professional but he’s learning more and maturing more off the court as a father, he’s become an even better leader on and off the court.”
Last summer, the Washington Wizards signed Howard after he was traded from the Charlotte Hornets to the Brooklyn Nets and was eventually being bought out.
Injuries have been unkind to Dwight Howard over the last few seasons. Most recently, he dealt with hindering back and hamstring injuries. Despite that, he was still effective on the floor. The big man averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in 25.6 minutes per game.
Howard was optimistic going into the season. “I’m going to continue to get better,” he told me.
“Continue to smile and continue to enjoy life.”
Currently Howard comes off of the bench. On Tuesday however, Howard, 34, who is averaging 6.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks got a crack in head coach, Frank Vogel’s staring lineup in place of Anthony Davis who sat out with an ankle injury.
Despite LA’s 105-102 loss, Howard delivered. The Atlanta, Georgia native notched 20 points and 6 rebounds.
He was available when his name was called. “Now he’s older,” Danny Green told me of Howard.
“And he understands that he’s lost a little bit even though we don’t think he looks like it. “He’s okay with taking a back seat to AD [Anthony Davis] or whoever, and also continues to accept criticism.”
Dwight Howard is a five-time All-Defensive team member, has won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award three times and also took home the NBA Slam Dunk Contest crown.
At 24-5 the Los Angeles Lakers currently sit in first place in the NBA’s Western Conference. Despite losing to the Milwaukee Bucks, they have still been played inspired basketball behind the contributions of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
James is averaging 25.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 10.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game at the age of 34.
Davis is averaging 27.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.6 blocks per contest. Davis’ goal
The Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks last night in Milwaukee.
LA will look to rebound from their two game losing streak when they host the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Monday and play host to Staples Center co-tenants, Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day.