Dwight Howard practiced with the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time yesterday and apparently he looked stronger than ever.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: The Lakers have no excuses NOT to be a championship contender this season.
After having back surgery just over five months ago to replace a herniated disc, Howard's health has been one of if not the only concern in a Lakers lineup that looks poised for a championship run in the 2012-13 season. Let's be honest: a healthy starting lineup consisting of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant on the perimeter, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard down low, and Metta World Peace (who's definitely one of the league's most intimidating presences') running around crazy, sounds pretty legit.
But then again, Nash and Kobe are both coming up on their 17th seasons in the NBA and the quality in production of that Lakers first five is going to depend heavily on the health of each player throughout the year.
Yesterday, at Howard's first practice with Los Angeles, it was reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com that Howard was "impressive," looking just as ready to play as ever. He was fully participating in contact drills, dunking with ease (per usual) and competing hard in 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-3 situations.
According to McMenamin, "A source who witnessed Howard at the portion of practice that was closed to the media described Howard's level of play to ESPNLosAngeles.com as 'unbelievable'."
Even Lakers teammate and fellow big man, Pau Gasol, was a little surprised. "He worked just as much as everybody else, so that was good. I didn't expect that to happen today," Gasol commented.
While the decision on when Howard will make his first game appearance is still to be determined, Howard did say he hopes to be "back for some preseason games." Having said that, the big man remains practical in his approach. "All I know is that we had a great practice today," Howard commented. "I don't know the date when I'm going to return, but I'm looking forward to (Wednesday's) practice to see how my body feels when I wake up."
"We're not in a rush. These guys need me for the whole season, not a couple preseason games," he continued.
So far the All-Star center will not be playing in the Lakers preseason opener on October 7th against Golden State but is hopeful to play in a few preseason games before the season opener on October 30th against the Mavericks at Staples.
While Howard's time horizon is still uncertain, one thing is for sure: a healthy Dwight Howard makes the Lakers a tough team to beat.
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