Life as a bench player in the NBA can be tough, especially for those who don’t have a consistent role or allotment of minutes. It requires an ability to stay sharp and engaged even when one isn’t actively contributing to the team’s efforts during games.
For his part, Los Angeles Lakers center big man Dwight Howard looks to have mastered the mindset. After logging two straight DNPs, the former All-Star and three-time DPOY returned to the court against the Kings on January 4 and promptly logged a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double.
That’s not to say coping with an ever-changing role has been easy, though.
“The biggest thing for me is just making sure I stay ready. And it has been tough,” Howard confessed during a Zoom conference, via Silver Screen & Roll. “There’s been days where I have to remember why I’m here, and what the ultimate goal is.”
Howard Hasn’t Spoken to Vogel About His Role
Howard’s season has truly been an up-and-down affair. Just three nights after his big return against Sacramento, Howard was limited to just four minutes of action against the Hawks. And the aforementioned DNPs came immediately after he had been moved to the starting five in the wake of Anthony Davis’ MCL sprain.
Now, though, Lakers coach Frank Vogel has elected to go with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as small-ball fives instead of playing Howard on a regular basis.
The big man understands the move, noting that the Lakers have “had some success with playing small ball.” Still, it has been an adjustment for Howard. However, he’s not about to go banging down his coach’s door for an explanation about the change.
“Nah, nah, nah. I don’t want to do anything to agitate or make him feel like I’m trying to get attention,” he said. “But when I do get my number called in-game, I do want to let it be known that I’m still on the team and I can provide a level of energy and sustain it for however long it’s needed.”
Making the Best of a Tough Situation
Howard isn’t the only Lakers big man trying to navigate the perils of inconsistent playing time; DeAndre Jordan is in a similar boat. As Howard sees it, the two of them are doing their best to power through amid the uncertainty.
“That can be tough for anyone. I know DJ, for me and him, it’s been kind of like a roller coaster all season. So we just try to provide some type of energy and synergy,” Howard said.
“Making sure our level of energy is pretty high whether we’re on the floor, on the bench, or in the locker room. Just trying to maintain a level of focus, because it can be tough. And it is tough at times.”
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