NEW YORK – When you have a father who played for eight different franchises and was an assistant coach after his final NBA stop, you are bound to have a significant number of connections when you enter the NBA draft. Thus it is for Jett Howard, whose father, Juwan Howard, bounced around quite a bit in 19 seasons in the league.
But it is one connection Juwan Howard has that should be of special interest to Lakers fans: For two seasons, he was a teammate at Michigan with a shooting guard named Rob Pelinka, who has since gone on to be the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. And the Lakers have the No. 17 pick in this year’s NBA draft, right in the range in which Jett Howard is expected to be picked.
“I worked out for the Lakers,” Howard said on Wednesday, pointing out that it was a short workout of just about 30 minutes. “Rob was there, talked to him a little bit. I have known him so long, it was kind of an organic conversation. And yeah, if they pick me, I would be more than happy to play for them.”
Howard’s Father Has Helped Through the Draft Process
Howard did not knock off anyone’s socks in his one season at Michigan, but he was solid throughout, averaging 14.8 points and making 36.8% of his 3-pointers. He slumped late in the season, as Michigan closed with a 5-7 record in its last 12 games, Howard making just 36.2% of his overall shots in that stretch.
Still, he is viewed as a capable shot-maker in this group, and the Lakers are believed to be looking for bench scoring this offseason.
Howard said he has not been able to lean much on his father during the draft process, because when Juwan was drafted in 1994, he went No. 5 overall.
“From a draft standpoint, he only worked out for one team because he was so high,” Jett Howard said. “So it’s different. But he is definitely telling me all the little tricks and ways to make everything go smoothly and just make the best of any situation you’re in. Having him behind me makes me more comfortable.”
Howard Could Land in Miami
There is a chance that Howard could be gone by the time the Lakers choose, perhaps to another team that has a Juwan Howard connection—the Miami Heat. Juwan Howard wrapped up his NBA career in a Miami uniform and was an assistant with the Heat before taking over at Michigan.
Even if he does go off the board by then, the Lakers have other options as potential bench scorers, including Connecticut guard Jordan Hawkins, who led the Huskies to this year’s national title, and Ohio State wing Brice Sensabaugh.
It’s possible the Lakers take an unorthodox path with the No. 17 pick, too, and take a big man. There have been rumors about the team trying to trade up to take Dereck Lively from Duke.
Some within the team feel that guard Max Christie is ready for NBA minutes next season. Currently, Christie is the only player on the L.A. roster who was drafted by the team, though Austin Reaves is entirely homegrown after having gone undrafted two years ago.
Howard will be eagerly awaiting to see whether his fate takes him back into Pelinka’s orbit.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Howard said. “I am kinda comfortable with not knowing, I just try to have my mindset ready. I feel like if I get too hyped for one situation and that situation doesn’t work out, you’re going to be bummed. So, I would rather go into it being ready for any situation.”