Does Dwight Howard Make Sense for the Wizards?
By Evan Redmon
July 10, 2018
Dwight Howard has talent falling off of him like sauce on a rack of baby back ribs.
No one says otherwise. He’s a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year who will give you double-digit points and rebounds every game, like clockwork.
So why is he on his sixth team in eight seasons?
Some people aren’t much to look at, but their personality makes you happy to see them every time. Others pass the eye test with flying colors, but they inspire whispered insults and derisive nicknames at every turn.
Dwight Howard is definitely in the latter category. Welcome to Washington.
THE LATEST WASHINGTON WIZARD IS DWIGHT HOWARD. IS THAT A GOOD THING?
On the surface, the answer to the above question is absolutely yes. Dwight Howard is the most athletically gifted big man the Bullets/Wizards have had in a long, long time. Maybe since Wes Unseld.
Disagree? Okay then, name the player who fills that void. I’ll broker peace in the Middle East while we’re waiting.
As a replacement for Marcin Gortat, who – now famously – feuded with John Wall to the point where the Polish Hammer couldn’t wait to leave, Howard represents a clear upgrade.
Career points average per game: Howard 17.4, Gortat 10.2
Career rebounds average per game: Howard 12.7, Gortat 8.1
Career blocks per game: Howard 2.0, Gortat 1.1
Dwight Howard also doubles Marcin Gortat up in steals, assists, and pretty much any other stat you can conjure up. Furthermore, the Wizards needed a big man in the worst possible way, so this looks like a match made in heaven.
And maybe it will prove to be so. However, there’s a bit of Howard’s past that could present a problem for the Wizards’ future.
Dwight Howard Has Been Everywhere, Man
HOWARD MAY JUST BE HERE FOR THE STATS
There is some debate as to whether or not Dwight Howard is a Hall of Fame player. He doesn’t have a ring, not yet anyway. But he does have stats galore.
Those stats will be what punches his ticket to Springfield, MA, if he indeed does get in. Perhaps that’s at the center of the perception that Dwight Howard is a selfish player, and why he rubs teammates the wrong way.
The excellent Wizards Blog, Bullets Forever, recently addressed this issue when they asked a couple of writers covering the Charlotte Hornets to weigh in on Howard after he signed with the Wizards.
Nick Denning, editor of At The Hive, had a particularly interesting take.
“Initially, I was a bit excited [when the Hornets signed Howard]. They traded next to nothing to get him, and, on paper, it appeared Charlotte had upgraded the center spot…Looking back, I think I ignored that Howard simply wasn’t a good fit for the Hornets, and I naively assumed he wouldn’t be an issue in the locker room. He can still play, that’s undeniable…[but] it didn’t mean a whole lot. He was productive from an individual standpoint and produced dozens of highlight-worthy plays, but it didn’t translate to wins nearly enough.”
So why was that? Partially because Dwight Howard the offensive player is at odds with Dwight Howard the defensive player. At the perimeter, he either doesn’t have the ability to defend anywhere close to his MVP days, or he doesn’t put forth the effort.
At first, the Hornets-Howard marriage seemed to be going well. But Denning noted that, soon enough, “Reports came out that the locker room was tired of him. It sounds as if he does a lot of little things, that wear on players over time.”
Gee. That doesn’t sound familiar, does it? Right.
And one has to wonder about the Wall-Howard pairing. It should work just fine on the offensive side of the ball.
But if John Wall doesn’t switch properly on D, as Marcin Gortat recently suggested, which led him to complain about having to check quick and speedy guards, how will Howard’s lack of defensive chops at 12 feet translate in DC?
“Reports came out that the locker room was tired of him. It sounds as if he does a lot of little things that wear on players over time.”
WILL DWIGHT HOWARD CHANGE HIS WAYS IN WASHINGTON?
Shame is a powerful motivator. One has to think that Howard is keenly aware of his negative press. Most people would be embarrassed by it.
However, professional athletes are not most people. They live largely in an isolated bubble of privilege and wealth, and they’re not always too keen on changing their ways. The more inherently selfish the player, the more this is true.
So then, if Dwight Howard’s ways have got him this far, what motivation will he have to fundamentally alter his personality at this later stage of his career?
The answer is, he’ll have no motivation whatsoever.
If history is any indication, get ready for highlight dunks that Gortat couldn’t produce, and about the same winning percentage as last year.