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Doc Rivers shares high praise for Dwight Howard at Sixers camp

The Sixers coach commended the big man's leadership and seamless transition before the start of the NBA season.

Dwight Howard signed a veteran minimum deal of $2.56 million to join the Sixers as Joel Embiiid's backup.
Dwight Howard signed a veteran minimum deal of $2.56 million to join the Sixers as Joel Embiiid's backup.Read moreMark J. Terrill / AP

Dwight Howard’s leadership and ability to blend in hasn’t gone unnoticed at the 76ers training camp.

“The thing I have been so impressed with Dwight, it’s rare that a guy can go from the guy, superstar, in the MVP category every year to being a role player, wanting to help everybody else,” coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s what he’s doing.”

Howard said that his journey to win back-to-back NBA titles called him to the Sixers. He was a role-playing reserve on last season’s NBA championship-winning Los Angeles Lakers squad. Howard, who turned 35 on Tuesday, wants to be a mentor for Joel Embiid while showing the Sixers what to takes to win a title.

He was happy to take the cap-friendly guaranteed veteran minimum deal of $2.56 million to be Embiid’s backup. He’s arguably the best backup center in the league. The 6-foot-10 chiseled 265-pounder has Hall of Fame talent and a great resume.

The Atlanta native was the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, by the Orlando Magic out of high school. He’s an eight-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA first-teamer, three-time defensive player of the year; four-time All-Defense first-teamer; five rebounding titles, two shot-block titles, and just became a first-time NBA champion. And you can’t forget that he was the 2008 slam dunk champion.

He has averaged 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks in 1,113 career games, with 1,045 starts in 17 NBA seasons. Yet his most gratifying time came this past season when he won the NBA title. Howard averaged career lows of 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks as the Lakers’ backup center.

There were games in which he scored buckets and there were other games that he didn’t play at all. But he will tell you he’s an NBA champion.

“So, what really matters is holding up that trophy,” Howard said last month. “And that would be my message to everybody on the team. What are you willing to give up to get the trophy?”

That’s why despite his lofty resume, Howard is focused on blending in.