There is no question that Dwight Howard is playing on a higher level in the recent weeks. Whether it’s due to having a healthy Steve Nash and Steve Blake back in the lineup, a change in his mentality or just the mere fact that he feels a bit better (winning can do that), there has been a difference in his performance as of late.
We have seen hints of him wanting to stay with the Lakers in the future via commercials and his own subtle comments. However, Lakers fans won’t know for sure until he signs a contract in July. What we do know is that he seems to be soaking up the intangibles of being a Laker.
Recently, Dwight discussed what he wants to become as a player in the future, what it could be like in the post-Kobe era in LA (an idea any Lakers fan doesn’t want to think about) and what has been the most important thing he has learned so far in LA. Per Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA, Dwight’s answer to that last topic was the following:
“By being here, you just really see how to do it. It’s how you approach games. About how you approach practice. The time after practice, the work that you put in on the days off, that’s what the guys on the team see, and they feed off that. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned, just coming in and getting my work done so everybody else can see, ‘This is how you work and he’s working, so you set the bar high, and we just follow that bar.’ It’s good for me.”
It seems someone has been watching and analyzing Kobe Bryant, who has one of the strongest work ethics in the history of sports. It has been a roller-coaster of a season for the Lakers, which continues to test their will and mentality.
This season for the Lakers would be a challenge for any leader or any player. However, by observing leaders like Kobe, Nash and Pau Gasol and learning from them, this experience certainly benefits Dwight now and in the future.