Dwight Howard Will Attempt to Increase His Value in Return to Wizards

    As many teams around the league prepare for a playoff push or adjust rotations to prioritize development over immediate results, Wizards center Dwight

    February 20, 2019

    As many teams around the league prepare for a playoff push or adjust rotations to prioritize development over immediate results, Wizards center Dwight Howard will attempt to rebuild his past reputation as one of the NBA’s dominant big men.

    [RELATED: Anthony Davis’ Latest Comments Add Layer to Trade Saga]

    Howard played a whopping nine games before undergoing spinal surgery at the end of November. He was averaging 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game at the time. According to Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania, Howard was expected to be back after two months.

    Howard previously had back surgery in April of 2012 prior to his forgettable stint in Los Angeles. After his brief tenure in LA, he had a strong three-season run in Houston before bouncing around to Atlanta, Charlotte and now Washington. Despite having a fantastic eight-year run as an All-Star that included three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year campaigns and an appearance in the NBA Finals, Howard has been reduced to a peripheral role as the league moves away from back-to-the-basket big men.

    Per Charania, Howard is looking to begin on-court rehabilitation soon. He was initially rehabbing in Atlanta, but returned to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to get back on the court.

    The Wizards are on the fringe of playoff contention, but it would take a miraculous run along with serious help from other teams to get them into the postseason. Howard isn’t singlehandedly going to change the team in 24 games, but he has the chance to return to his old form and silence his doubters during the last third of the season.

    Even with his decline, Howard is still a strong rebounder and rim protector. Here’s a look at his rebound and block percentages since his last All-Star season among qualified players.

    Dwight Howard Splits Rebound Percentage Rebound Percentage Rank Block Percentage Block Percentage Rank
    2013-14 (last All-Star season) 20.1 5th 4.0 11th
    2014-15 19.5 7th* 3.4 25th*
    2015-16 20.2 7th 4.1 15th
    2016-17 23.5 4th 3.6 17th
    2017-18 22.2 4th 4.4 10th

     

    *Howard didn’t qualify for statistics this season, so his rank is what it would’ve been had he continued to produce at the same rate for the entire year.

    Rebounding and rim protection is still a valuable skill in the modern NBA, and Howard still finishes near the rim at a great rate. He’s a 71.7 percent shooter for his career from 0-3 feet from the hoop and he takes the vast majority of his attempts from that distance. For a team looking to add a strong interior presence at a low cost, Howard is the ideal player.

    As long as he doesn’t demand touches in the post or force the team to build an offense around him, he’s still a worthwhile player to sign.

    A $5.6 million player option provides Howard with some security should he flounder during the final months of the season. He’s 33, has a history of back issues and will be five seasons removed from his last All-Star campaign. Howard shouldn’t be looking for a big pay day — and I don’t think he is — but he does have the opportunity to sell himself to a contender as a balanced player who can instantly contribute. Teams like San Antonio and Sacramento could use Howard as a rebounding force while Brooklyn and Portland would appreciate his defensive chops.

    Howard is no longer the max-level, two-way All-Star he once was, but he can still help a contending team fight for a championship.

    He should do everything in his power to prove just that during the last stretch of this season.

    MORE: Kevin Durant’s All-Star Weekend Performance Won’t Stop Free Agency Noise

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