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What Dwight Howard needs to provide on the court for the Lakers

Dwight Howard is officially back with the Los Angeles Lakers, and supposedly he’s got the right mindset this time. If so, he needs to prove that on the court by doing just what the Lakers need him to do: Set screens, rebound, and defend.

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San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

In my last article article, I talked about four players the Lakers should focus on signing. Dwight Howard was fourth on my list and Joakim Noah was second, mainly because I believed Noah was just a much better fit overall for the Lakers and didn’t bring the on-court drama that Howard has brought to every team he has been on in his entire NBA career.

So when the Lakers did sign Howard, like many Lakers fans, I was confused. Why didn’t the Lakers offer Noah a contract? Why didn’t they have more workouts? Do they remember how their last stint with Howard went?

After digesting all the news and going over all the terms of the deal, I decided that it’s actually a decent deal. Yes, I still believe they should’ve offered Noah a spot, that hasn’t changed, but we just have to move on from that and realize that’s over. Yes, I still am annoyed with how Howard’s last stint in L.A. went, but right now the Lakers need a center and Dwight needs a team, and he’s promised to focus on the right things this time.

Dwight has given the same speech over and over again, but there’s a chance this one could be different. It’s not a big chance, but it’s still a chance, and not particularly a risky one. He’s never once in his career had zero NBA teams wanting to sign him or trade for him. Howard has to have noticed that.

And if Howard has matured this time, then he’ll have noticed this team needs three specific things from him: Screen-setting, rebounding, and defense:

That’s it. No demanding the ball in the post (unless he has someone like JJ Reddick defending him there, no offense JJ) and no demanding more playing time. His skill set was never the issue, it’s always been his ego. Howard is a terrific rim protector and rebounder, I’m not worried about that. What I am worried about is that in the past, when Dwight hasn’t been happy and doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough touches, not only does his entire game suffer, but the team suffers as well. That will have to change this time, or Howard won’t be around long.

If he’s able to focus on just the three things above, though, I have no doubt that he will make it through January and beyond that.

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