A little over two months into the season, the veteran big man can look in the mirror and say: mission accomplished.
Howard will have his contract fully guaranteed by the Lakers on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Howard is signed to the veteran’s minimum of $2.56 million, but the move is more about the faith the team has in him than the money. Howard has made more than $240 million in his career, according to Spotrac.
Dwight Howard Transforms Into Key Contributor for Lakers
Howard is averaging 7.1 points on 73.8% shooting to go with 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He’s playing 19.5 minutes off the bench, combining with JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis to give the Lakers an elite group of rim protectors.
“Their chemistry together has been a big part of our early-season success. Their willingness to accept the role that’s been laid out for them,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said of Howard and McGee, via Spectrum SportsNet. “They come in and tag team and give us All-Star production at the center position between the two of them. That’s just part of what we’re trying to preach with this group. We’ve got to build positive chemistry, we have to achieve it and those two support each other where they are and like I said it’s a big reason for our success this year.”
Dwight Howard Redeems Himself in Los Angeles
Howard has proven to be an integral part off of the bench for the Lakers and erased the villain reputation he acquired after his first stint in the purple and gold. After the team made a blockbuster trade to pair him with Kobe Bryant, Howard bolted in free agency.
But in his return trip to LA, Howard has been the model teammate, keeping a positive mindset, supporting his fellow Lakers and making an impact during his minutes on the court.
“You got to be able to stand the rain,” Howard told reporters. “That’s what makes us humans. That’s what makes us. The ability to go through tough times and not allow it to break our character. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to go through hell and be like, ‘OK, just smile it off.’ But you never know how close you are to a breakthrough if you just quit on yourself.”
Another surprise came regarding Howard when it was reported that he’d be returning to the dunk contest. The eight-time All-Star, three-time Defensive Player of the Year is seeking his second dunk contest title. He won the 2008 contest, living up to his “Superman” moniker with a massive sequence of jams — including one wearing a cape.