With the recent news of Houston Rocket’s “star” center Dwight Howard feeling a certain way about his organizational role, one must begin to wonder how much of a star Howard truly is.
The Magic Years: In Orlando, Howard was the man on a scrappy team he eventually lead to the Finals. Averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks in his eight year stint with the team that drafted him, Dwight meant a lot to Orlando. Howard played with aggression on defense, a powerful and passionate touch on offense, and was always seen smiling; the success he found early didn’t hurt either. But were these years in Orlando only that for Dwight, a simple fluke of magic? Or can he find he find his passion again, can he regain that lost aggression; well he certainly didn’t in Los Angeles.
The Los(t) year with the Lakers: In 2012, a frustrated Dwight Howard arrived on the doorstep of one of the most successful franchises in sports history hoping for a legitimate run at a chip. Unfortunately, this move ended in disaster. A lineup that looked impressive at first, (Steve Nash, Kobe, and Howard) soon turned out to be a bust when Dwight and Kobe butted heads over touches, and Nash went down with an injury. In his stint in LA, Howard saw his averages take hits to 17 points per game, 12 rebounds, and a significantly lower free throw percentage (from 58 % to 49 %). Opting against working out his and Bryant’s differences, Howard picked up and headed over to the improving Rockets where he hoped to see his game elevate along with the team. And it did, for a bit.
Houston, here we are: In his first season with the Rockets, Dwight played exceptional basketball alongside rising star James Harden. Howard posted averages of 18 points, 12 rebounds, and about two blocks; this was a very confident sign as it showed all of his skeptics he wasn’t regressing. Unfortunately, he may have played his cards a bit early, as his first year in Houston has been the best Howard has seen. His 2014-15 campaign was tarnished by injuries, and Howard saw his averages dip to 15 points, ten rebounds, and a block, still very respectable stats considering his injury. But this years 2015-16 campaign has gotten off to a rather bleak start for Dwight, averaging stats nearly identical to his rookie year (12 PPG, 11 RPG, 1.8 BPG). His recent remarks diffusing rumors of him being unhappy with his second-fiddle role next to Harden seem to be genuine, so at least that is reassuring. But right now, only getting off eight shots a game and averaging only 12 points, one must worry how long Howard remains content.