Dwight Howard is far removed from his days as an eight-time All-Star, but the new 76ers center can bring plenty of perspective to the team, especially when it comes to how All-Star pairings work.
Howard played last season on the NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 18.9 minutes. He got to watch superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis team up in their first year together to win the franchise’s 17th championship.
Howard, who will turn 35 on Dec. 8 and is entering his 17th NBA season, says he got great insight from watching how James and Davis clicked in their first season together and he feels he can apply that perspective to the Sixers’ Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
“Yes, I thought that it was very good for me to see that, you know for one, I’ve been in that situation multiple times, going to a team that has another star,” Howard said. “ … Playing alongside other stars, sometimes it can be difficult because you want to be that guy, and watching AD and LeBron was like everything they did was together.
“They worked out together. They ate together. They rode bikes together. We called them the brothers,” Howard said. “They were always together, playing video games, doing something, so I took that as ‘OK, this is what Ben and Joel, they have to be that way, they have to know each other so much on and off the court that when they’re playing, that it’s just natural.”
While Howard wasn’t talking specifically of the Simmons-Embiid dynamic, he said in any All-Star pairing, there has to be sacrifice.
“Once you are willing to give yourself up, great things can happen,” he said. ‘I watched that with LeBron. Even though there were games LeBron was having triple-doubles, he made sure he fed AD and AD got off.”
The championship mentality of both players left an impression on Howard.
“When you have two guys like that who are willing to do whatever it takes to win, it kind of brings up the morale of the team,” Howard said. “I can see that in Ben and Jo, those two guys coming together and putting aside any ego, pride, anything and saying, ‘Hey, we are both here for one mission and that’s to win a championship and it starts and finishes with us, too.’ And I saw that with LeBron and AD, — they put everything on their shoulders.”
Howard thinks Simmons and Embiid have the ability to be the same type of potent 1-2 punch.
“I see so much potential from those two, what they can bring to a team, the championships they can have, just all the blessings they can get from playing this great game of basketball,” Howard said. “And I really just want to be that person to just help push them toward their greatness.”
The 76ers have announced several signings, many which have been previously reported.
All three draft choices have signed. First-round pick Tyrese Maxey of Kentucky, who was selected 21st overall, and second-round pick Isaiah Joe of Arkansas (49th overall) have signed standard NBA contracts. Second-round pick Paul Reed of DePaul, the 58th overall selection, signed a two-way contract, as did free agent Dakota Mathias. A shooting guard who played at Purdue, Mathias spent last season with the Texas Legends, the NBA G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks.
NBA teams are permitted a maximum of two players under two-way contracts. Under the rules this season, a two-way player will play for the Sixers’ G League team, the Delaware Blue Coats, and may not be active for more than 50 NBA games.
The Sixers also announced the signing of forward Lamine Diane, the two-time Big West player of the year who agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract. An Exhibit 10 contract is a one-year deal that guarantees that Diane will receive a training-camp invitation. Exhibit 10 players get bonuses of up to $50,000 to sign with a team’s G League affiliate if waived. They have to play for the affiliate for at least 60 days to get paid.