Dwight Howard is destined for the Basketball Hall of Fame when he decides to call it quits on his NBA career. The first overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, made eight All-NBA teams, eight All-Star teams, and five All-Defensive teams. He also led the Orlando Magic to a 2009 NBA Finals appearance, and he would pick up a ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Despite claiming to be in the best shape of his life, Howard remains unsigned as the 2022-2023 preseason kicks off.
"When you're in the best shape of your life, but still a free agent"
While Dwight Howard will be remembered as one of the greatest centers of his generation, his prime is well past him. He has not averaged double-digit points or rebounds, or played over 20 minutes per game, in a full season since 2017-2018. Despite this, Howard remains a servicable piece of the bench in a limited role.
His per-36 numbers over the last few seasons show that he still has something left in the tank. While they do not approach the gaudy numbers he put up in his prime, they do show that Howard is still a capable rebounder, rim protector, and scorer at the rim. A contender lacking depth up front could do a lot worse than bringing in an experienced big man like Dwight Howard.
Was Dwight Howard snubbed from the NBA's 75th Anniversary team?
The NBA's revealing of the 75th Anniversary team faced a lot of backlash as there were many notable names missing. Of the snubbed players, there was arguably no exclusion as egregious as Dwight Howard. A dominant big man in his prime, Howard's numbers and accolades certainly warranted inclusion; however, the big man wasn't surprised by the snub.
Howard has made more All-NBA teams than any other player who didn't make the NBA's 75th Anniversary team. Many believed that Howard was left off due to his departure from the Orlando Magic, where he forced a trade and was widely viewed as a cancer. During an eight-year run where he made the All-NBA team and All-Star team every season, Howard averaged 19.5 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game, and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 59% from the field.
In his prime, Howard showed the ability to lead a team to the NBA Finals. During the 2009 run, where his Magic eventually lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the championship, Howard went through both the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. While he may not have made the NBA's 75th Anniversary team, Howard is a lock for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.