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Laker Film Room: Dwight Howard’s Great Start for the Lakers

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Dwight Howard has been one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA during his first five games with the Lakers, just as we all predicted.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard hype videos after five Lakers games, eh? Who woulda thunk it?

Well, his play has warranted them. Howard has had one of the strongest starts to the season of any role player in the NBA, which is reflected by a few stunning statistics.

Let’s run them down. Howard is:

  • 4th in the NBA in Blocked Shots (2.4 in just 21.3 minutes per game)
  • 1st in the NBA in plus-minus (+65)
  • and he and Anthony Davis have the best Defensive Rating (73.2) and best Net Rating (+50.3!) of any duo in the NBA that’s played at least 50 minutes together.

Howard is taking great pride in doing the little things on the offensive end, setting rock-solid screens, rolling hard, and physically punishing opponents on the offensive glass. He’s doing all of that while rarely getting a post touch, which was often a demand he made in his younger years.

In one a recent video, I took a closer look at how that’s worked offensively:

But while his offensive contributions are important, his greatest value to the 2019-20 Lakers is on the defensive end. Howard doesn’t have the athleticism that he once did, but his pick and roll defense is fundamentally sound, he knows when he needs to help a teammate who’s been beaten on the perimeter, and he’s strong as hell. His stifling defense has been particularly welcome as JaVale McGee has struggled to gain his footing early in the season.

Let’s take a closer look at how he’s done so well on that end of the court:

Dwight Howard is fully embracing his role, and has been everything that the Lakers could have possibly hoped he’d be so far. Let’s hope he can keep this pace up for 82 games and well into a deep playoff run.

Sadly, this my last post for Silver Screen & Roll, as other opportunities have arisen that I’ll be announcing shortly. I’ve had a blast working beside Harrison and the entire SS&R staff, and this site will always feel like home to me. Thank you for taking the time to read my posts and watch my videos here over the last couple of years. Go Lakers!

The goal of Laker Film Room is to create content that helps you enjoy the game on a deeper level. If you’d like to support that work, you can do so on Patreon or Venmo.