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Lakers’ Dwight Howard to start vs Nets in place of JaVale McGee

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard will make his first start of the season on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets, as usual starter JaVale McGee is sidelined due to illness:

Although Howard has been coming off the bench, he was actually averaging more minutes than McGee (20.1 to 17.0). Nevertheless, he figures to see more extended run with McGee out of the rotation.

Howard is more than deserving of the opportunity. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 7.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks through the first 44 games of the season, and he gives the Lakers one of the more imposing frontcourts alongside McGee and Anthony Davis.

This Lakers reunion has done wonders for Howard. He has thrived playing alongside LeBron James, running the floor and making himself available on the offensive end while also dominating the glass and contesting everything in sight.

Howard’s imprints are all over Los Angeles’ season. The Lakers rank third in defensive rating. Dwight Howard himself ranks 13th in defensive box plus-minus (3.3) and eighth in both defensive rating and rebounding percentage, according to Basketball Reference.

The Lakers also lead the league in blocked shots, due largely in part to the fact that Howard, McGee and Davis are elite rim protectors.

In fact, Dwight Howard is having so much fun this year that he decided to enter the dunk contest at All-Star weekend in Chicago. Moreover, Howard even asked former teammate Kobe Bryant to join him in putting aside their ill will and providing assistance during the contest.

Dwight Howard is starting for a championship contender just one year after facing questions about his commitment and attitude. He has totally revitalized his career in Hollywood.

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