The NBA community and its critics seem to have forgotten the greatness that Dwight Howard has shown through his illustrious career. Even when he declined as an all-star, Howard still managed to remain an impactful player on an NBA roster and be a beast under the basket. Winning a championship this season just solidifies Howard’s spot in the Hall of Fame when his career is said and done.
Howard has accomplished so much in his 16-year career. There was a point in his career where he was almost unstoppable on the block. Defenders had no answer for this strength and athleticism when he had the ball. To this day, Howard can still display moves in the post when he is called upon to. But now later in his career, he doesn’t have to be ball-dominant as he once was.
Let’s start in Orlando, which were Howard’s best years as far as all-stars and MVP caliber player. Howard was able to win three Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-NBA First Teams, along with making six All-Star game appearances. Howard was the man in Orlando and everything revolved around him. Leading his team in the NBA Finals in 2009 showed that Howard was a great leader when things were going right. Many will debate that Howard would have remained an MVP caliber player if it wasn’t for his departure in 2012.
After the 2009 Finals, things went downhill for Howard and the Orlando Magic. There were numerous turmoil that occurred off the court, which led him to requesting a trade in the 2012 offseason. Howard would join the Lakers and play alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol.
Los Angeles Lakers
It wasn’t the best of times for Howard in his first stint in Los Angeles. With injuries, along with chemistry issues, the team never got into a groove that many expected them to. The team finished the season at 45-37 and were swept out of the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
Luckily, Dwight Howard still averaged 17 points per game and led the league with 12 rebounds. He was able to make the All-Star team while being All-NBA Third Team.
The next stop was Houston, Howard was a defensive force in a Rockets uniform. He was able to make the playoffs each year in his three seasons in Houston, along with one Conference Finals appearance as well.
Howard played in his final All-Star game during his tenure with the Rockets. His role wasn’t that big with the emergence of a future MVP in James Harden.
Howard averaged 16 points per game along with 11.5 rebounds. Although injuries and team chemistry were in the way once again, Howard still produced at the highest level. Howard was a big reason behind Houston’s success in his three years with the franchise.
Howard had a rather forgettable 16-17 campaign playing for Atlanta. But once he signed with the Charlotte Hornets a year after, it was great sightings for the most part. Howard showed signs of his past MVP caliber talent. He was dominant on the floor and controlled the paint with his athleticism. Howard was a double-double machine throughout the season. He also was able to produce a 30-30 game on March 21 against Brooklyn.
Howard’s tenure in Charlotte did not end on a high note. But his performances allowed people to understand that he was still a dominant player. It seemed as if Howard was inching closer to having his breakout, redemption season in a matter of time.
Return to Los Angeles
After a brief, nine-game stint in Washington, Howard found himself returning to the Los Angeles Lakers. A team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Howard was destined to be the best version of himself for the team.
Howard was a difference-maker off the bench. He came in and was a dominant threat protecting the rim. Howard was great alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt. His great defense was able to take care of itself on offense as well.
The best part of Howard’s season was in the playoffs. Defensively, Howard was able to take guys in Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo out of their comfort zone; forcing opposing bigs to become a shell of themselves in the paint. Howard’s defensive presence was huge in the playoffs. Because of that, it was a big contribution to him securing his first NBA Championship.
Despite many low seasons, Dwight Howard’s game has always been effective in the NBA. People may have forgotten, but those who have paid attention always understood what he brought to the table. Because of that, Dwight Howard deserves his name in the Hall of Fame when his career is finished.
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