Dwight Howard was without a doubt the best center for a couple of seasons in the NBA while playing for Orlando Magic. After his Orlando days, Dwight changed five teams in six seasons has not been on the same level ever since.
Dwight will suit up for the Washington Wizards this season who are hoping to make that extra step in the playoffs and by adding Howard to the roster they are getting a solid role player who can still give you 10 boards each night with a couple of blocked shots.
For the past couple of seasons, Dwight's career has experienced a dramatic fall which started with his back surgery a while back. Before the surgery, Howard was a valid MVP candidate. He is a three-time DPOY and was elected to the All-NBA team eight times.
The main problem with Howard was that he never worked on his game as much as he should have, considering the fact game has evolved quite a bit in the last 10 years.
His old coach in Orlando, Stan Van Gundy, talked about it with Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.
“It’s crazy; it really is,” Van Gundy said during his weekly appearance on my Open Mike radio show on FM 96.9 and AM 740. “… And it’s not been a lot of fun to watch because this is a guy who was the best center in the game for a long time. He’s still very good, but it doesn’t seem that he’s been highly appreciated….
“The problem is — and not just for Dwight — it’s been a tough adjustment for them [big men.] What everybody wants right now in a center is a guy who runs, defends, defends pick-and-rolls, protects the rim, rebounds, and on offense, is a pick-and-roll guy and a lob threat. Well, that’s Dwight Howard. There’s probably nobody who’s ever been better than him [at those skills.]
“The problem is these guys all want more. They want it to go back to the days where you would throw them the ball in the low post and then they get to play their game. I understand that. You’re a great player and you want to be able to show what you can do, but the game has changed. It’s been a tough adjustment for centers. I don’t think the game has passed them by because those guys are still really effective. They just have had trouble adjusting to and enjoying the role people want them to play.”
The adjustment to the new brand of basketball that is played in the NBA right now was hard for Dwight. He insisted to play the same type of basketball which is not that effective in the league. Van Gundy was right when he said adjusting to the new environment was hard for Howard because these days big man should know how to shoot, run, rebound and protect the rim.
For the majority of his career, Howard was a really good pick-and-roll player but his post-up game was nowhere near on the same level. He just didn't understand the evolution in the game that was happening in front of him but also what was needed for him to be an effective player on a championship-caliber team.