When you think of Hall-of-Fame NBA big men, does Dwight Howard come to mind? Although he can be viewed as somewhat of a laughingstock in the NBA right now, during his prime he was easily the best defending center the NBA had seen in a long time.
His career arc took a weird trajectory and in 2019 Howard is on his seventh NBA team. Today we will go over his career and figure out what he can do to cement his legacy as one of basketball’s all-time greats.
Going to Orlando
Heading into the 2005 NBA Draft there was a debate between who would go first to the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard was a high school phenom with game-changing talent, while Emeka Okafor was a defensive stud out of U-Conn. The Magic ultimately selected Howard and he turned into one of the game’s best players.
By his third season, he was already an all-star, which would start his run of eight consecutive selections. He even lead the Magic to the NBA Finals where they ultimately lost to the L.A. Lakers.
In his prime you could make a case that Howard was one of the best defensive players of all-time, earning three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and making the All-NBA team eight times.
Dwight Howard’s falling out with Van Gundy
The start of Howard’s decline from a popularity standpoint came before an Orlando Magic practice. Head coach Stan Van Gundy addressed the media about a meeting Howard had with the team’s ownership group about replacing Van Gundy as head coach.
During the media session, Howard came over to Van Gundy, put his arm around him, and proclaimed him to be “his guy”.
The media quickly saw right through it and began to write about Howard in a negative light. Howard would get traded to Los Angeles to team up Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in the 2012 offseason.
A brief stint in L.A.
On paper, the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers should have been one of the best teams in the NBA. They had three players destined for the Hall-of-Fame, but could never mesh well on the court.
Part of the reason was Bryant’s no-nonsense attitude didn’t understand Dwight Howard’s aloof mentality. Howard did put up good numbers, averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game in the purple & gold. However, he headed to Houston at the end of the season.
Not working well with James Harden
As Houston superstar James Harden was becoming one of the game’s best players, Howard again had issues fitting in and getting along with another star in his locker room. There were constant issues between the two, and after three seasons Howard was dealt to his hometown team the Atlanta Hawks.
Dwight Howard’s last three stops (Atlanta, Charlotte & Washington) have all had specific reasons to trade the big man. Atlanta needed to dump salary as they were going into a rebuild, Charlotte is just a poorly run franchise, and he was injured for a majority of last season with the Wizards.
This season he will play for his seventh team, the Grizzlies. Going to Memphis could give Howard a career resurgence. Howard needs to focus on being a mentor to younger players and being a great locker room guy.
Having him in a lineup with budding star Jaren Jackson Jr. could help Memphis make a playoff push next season. We also think Howard can find consistency in Memphis as they have turned the franchise over to the young forward.
Do you think Dwight Howard has repaired his career?
Would you expect Howard to be on a Memphis uniform at the end of this season? We think he has a fair shot to get traded and could end up with a team such as Golden State or Toronto as they look to make a run at the championship. Be sure to check out our NBA section for more news from around the league.