NBA 2019/20: Dwight Howard turns back the clock against former side Charlotte Hornets
After their 102-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the much anticipated NBA opening night matchup, the Los Angeles Lakers have racked off two impressive wins against the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are starting to build good chemistry together.
They use the pick and roll well, with LeBron lobbing to AD. Davis has become the focal point of the offense now, with LeBron working as the point guard and being more of a facilitator, especially in the first half. In the second half, James usually gets going. However, any success the Lakers have this season won’t be solely based on those two but on their role players.
The play of the center position is key because Anthony Davis prefers to play very few minutes there. Dwight Howard was brought back on board when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn ACL in the summer. He expressed regret for how he handled things in his first stint with the Lakers and how things transpired in his career. Howard wanted a second-chance to prove himself again and throughout training camp and the first week of the season, Superman has lived up to those promises.
The 33-year-old Howard had his most impressive game of the season yet against his former team, the Charlotte Hornets. In just 23 minutes, he had 16 points (8-8 FG), 10 rebounds, and four blocks. He looked spry and active again, running the floor, crashing the boards, throwing down alley-oops and swatting shots.
Howard had one impressive block in particular against Hornets center Cody Zeller and reacted with a Dikembe Mutombo-like finger wag to the roaring Staples Center crowd. This is ironic, considering Howard was frequently jeered upon his acrimonious departure from the Lakers in 2013.
In the previous two games, he did not score as much as he did against Charlotte but he has grabbed rebounds, and given a legitimate defensive presence in the paint. His defense, energy, passion, and desire to do better in his second stint has endeared him to “Laker Nation”.
Starting center JaVale McGee has had a quiet start to the campaign after last year’s breakout season. It not surprising that his minutes have decreased due to the presence of Anthony Davis, who spends a fair amount of time at center, along with Dwight Howard. McGee played well against the Hornets with 10 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes. His playing time will likely depend on the matchup and his effectiveness on the court.
There is also some thought that since Howard has outplayed McGee thus far this season, he will eventually replace him in the starting five. McGee is taller at 7-0, compared to Howard, measuring officially at 6-9 ¾. However, Howard is stronger, offers better rim and paint protection and rebounding, and is hungry to prove himself.
For the time-being, McGee is still expected to remain the team’s starting center, though Davis will finish there on most nights. Perhaps Howard is most effective providing defense and energy off the bench in limited bursts off the bench, as the team figures out rotations and attempts to build chemistry. But coach Frank Vogel admitted that Howard made a strong case to start, so things could change.