At this point, it's clear that Philadelphia 76ers veteran center Dwight Howard is bringing a lot to the table for Philly. Not only is he arguably the best backup center that Joel Embiid has ever had, but he's also a well-respected leader within the locker room, and he's taking that role very seriously.
Last week, moments after the Sixers defeated the Washington Wizards for the Sixers' season-opener, Howard hit the floor after the game with Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons. For close to a half-hour, the two Sixers worked on free-throw shooting along with mid-to-long range jump shots.
"It's something I need to do," Simmons said last week. "Dwight's been pushing me to get better. He came out to the floor with me. He's just pushing me. He wants me to be great, and I really appreciate that -- I respect him a lot. Especially with the career that he’s had. He’s someone I know that’s come into this organization to push me and believes in me, so to have that and have somebody do that, it makes you feel good."
Howard isn't willing to do that just for Simmons, though. Nearly a week later, after Tuesday night's victory at home over the Toronto Raptors, Howard once again took the floor a few minutes after heading back to the locker room for another postgame shootaround. Except for this time, Howard wasn't with Simmons. Instead, the big man was working out with Sixers rookies Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe.
Maxey, the Sixers' 2020 first-round pick, has seen some regular-season minutes off the bench in every game this season. Maxey has averaged 12 minutes on the floor over four games, shooting 33-percent from the field and putting up 3.5 points-per-game.
On the other hand, the second-rounder Joe hasn't really seen much playing time outside of the blowout loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night when he checked in for seven minutes during garbage time.
As both guys have seen limited playing time so far this season, the extra practice session after games can only be beneficial at this point in their careers. So it's promising to see them taking the initiative and getting back out on the floor with Howard after games.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_