Kobe Bryant was once teammates with Dwight Howard on the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2012-13 NBA season started with Bryant, Howard, and Steve Nash on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “Now THIS is going to be fun”. It was not.
Howard is back with the Lakers, a team that desperately needs frontcourt depth. Whether the 33-year-old Howard will be able to supply that is still a question, despite his reasonably productive per 100 possession statistics from last season.
In 20 minutes per game for the Los Angeles this year, Howard has produced reasonably well for a Lakers squad that wants nothing more than to be a power in the west. Meanwhile, his old teammate Bryant says that Howard will be a big time factor for L.A.
Via LA Times:
“I’m happy for him because sometimes we don’t realize how much we love the game and miss the game until that window starts closing or its closed,” Bryant said. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh damn, I really miss playing the game. I want another opportunity to show what I can do.’ Sometimes you don’t know if that opportunity will ever come again. For him, I really believe he’s appreciative of the opportunity and I think he’s going to make a hell of an impact because of the new appreciation he has for playing the game.”
Whether Howard can make an impact has never really been a question. Over the course of his career, health has been the biggest thing holding Howard back. That, and of course the years in which he complained about his post touches despite leading the NBA in that particular statistic.
There’s no qualms for Howard on that front any longer. He’s a bench player, and non-premiere rotation guys can’t exactly dictate things like post touches. He’s there to contribute in any way that LeBron James deems necessary. Of course, Howard had a serious issue with his lower back/sciatic area last season and the worry that over an 82 game drudge he’ll eventually wear down.
It’s fine that Kobe thinks Howard can contribute. On paper, that’s probably accurate. But over time, the real issue will be whether Howard can actually translate those efficiency numbers by staying on the court.