Has anyone done more to ruin their name in the past two years than Dwight Howard?
Think about it, Dwight was the runner up in MVP voting to Derrick Rose in 2011 and has since been on what seems to be a effort to self-sabotage his image on and off the court. Howard has come from close to having a pristine image priding himself as a devout Christian when he initially came to the NBA to now attempting to rival Antonio Cromartie and Travis Henry in which athlete can have the most children by different baby mothers. Dwight is expecting his fifth child by a fifth different mother.
I’m mostly indifferent to what D12 does off the court but just thought that 180 was comical. Now for the actual basketball analysis on this past season, the Los Angeles Lakers thought they were getting the premier center in the NBA when they pulled off a four-team trade to acquire Howard even if he was recovering from back surgery to repair a herniated disk.
Perhaps feeling the pressure to live up to the hype that comes with playing for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports as well as trying to hush his critics from the debacle that took place in leaving Orlando Howard rushed his recovery to be available for opening night and it was quite the adjustment period.
Dwight was clearly not the same player early in the season, he was nowhere near the explosive athlete we are accustomed to seeing and was a big reason the Lakers failed to meet expectations this season. Further, Howard was guilty of showing inconsistent effort on both ends of the floor and often grumbling about his role in the offense.
To his credit, Howard played much better after the All-Star break and was a pivotal part of the Lakers late season playoff push. D12 looked to be in better shape and played at a level more reminiscent of his Orlando Magic days as he averaged 18.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in the 28 games post All-Star game.
He also displayed toughness playing through a torn labrum which I’m sure had to be painful for a player whom his strength is a primary asset. Dwight made a stronger effort to embrace his role as the Lakers defensive anchor while not complaining about his touches offensively and his inspired play in the second half of the season indicated as such.
While Howard made his seventh All-Star team (thank god for fan voting right?), this was his worst season in years. Statistically his averages were not far off from his career norms as Dwight scored 17.1 points a night and led the league in rebounding grabbing 12.4 boards a contest. It is a testament to his talent that he could put up these numbers on what was a down year for Howard.
However stats don’t necessarily tell the full story when it comes to Dwight Howard’s 2012-13 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers which he himself described as a “nightmare”. The Lakers did not clinch their playoff spot until the final night of the regular season, rumblings of rifts between himself and Kobe Bryant as well as coach Mike D’Antoni and the lack of impact he had in an embarrassing first-round sweep to the San Antonio Spurs culminating in his being ejected in the deciding Game 4 loss.
Overall this was a year of unmet expectations for Dwight Howard. He gets somewhat of a pass because of Kobe’s season ending torn Achilles injury as well as dealing with his own injury problems but he has a long way to go in order to redeem himself in the leagues eyes and Lakers nation.