The Los Angeles Lakers took a risk signing Dwight Howard to a non-guaranteed contract nearing the end of the 2019 NBA offseason.
However, Howard is arguably one of the biggest bargain contracts in the league even after the Lakers fully guaranteed it at the beginning of 2020. He has been the ideal fit for the Lakers as JaVale McGee‘s backup center and he’s a part of the reason this team is so successful.
Beyond the success Howard has had, what’s undeniable is the fact that he has been one of the most fun players on this team all season. His shot-blocking ability and putback dunks have led him to quickly regain the trust of Lakers fans, and he genuinely has become a fan favorite. It’s clear he’s enjoying the game far more than he has in recent seasons.
Howard spoke about the ‘pure joy’ he’s feeling for the game of basketball this season, according to Helene Elliott of Los Angeles Times:
“I think a lot of times in the past it wasn’t accepted for guys to have fun like this on the court. But I think what it’s showing is just pure joy,” Howard said. “For me, this is like my sanctuary. For artists, they want to show how thankful they are, they make music. For a basketball player, it’s on the court.”
Howard also said that he’s cherishing every moment of his second chance to be with the Lakers and is always giving ‘135 percent’ while having fun doing it:
“I’m just happy to be out there playing basketball,” he said. “Playing here in L.A. has been such a blessing for me and I cherish every single moment. So when I’m out there on the floor I can’t do nothing, but give 135% and have fun in the process.”
The most important factor in all of this is that Howard has been really good this season. He and McGee combined have created one of the league’s most powerful big men, averaging 14.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 3.2 blocks per game as a tandem. Those numbers are better than that of Rudy Gobert.
Howard has clearly found his love for the sport again and playing good basketball on a championship contender definitely means he likely won’t lose that joy.
Howard came into this season promising that he was in Los Angeles to play a role and to get redemption. He has not only stuck to his word, but has been even better than anyone could’ve expected.