There has been a lot of criticism about Dwight Howard in the past few years. He turned from an NBA darling to one of the league’s biggest villains nearly overnight due to the handling of his exit with the Orlando Magic. His only season with the Lakers made it even worse for him.
He’s a Houston Rocket now and he still gets that criticism from fans and media. While his debilitating back injury has robbed him of his athleticism the past few seasons, Howard claims that he’s ready to be dominant. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
“It’s something that I’ve been thinking about all summer: Playing at that level every single night,” Howard told Yahoo Sports. “Not just waiting for the playoffs. This is my 11th year. There’s a thought, ‘The regular season is great, but when it’s time for playoffs, this is when it gets real serious.’ I want it to be where it’s serious from Game 1 to end of season, and then take it to another level in the playoffs. That’s something that me and Hakeem have talked about.
“I have to do it for 82 games, and physically, I’m in a better place to do it. There were spurts last season, spurts in Los Angeles, where I felt like I was doing a lot. The back injury took a lot out of me, but I’m in a better place now mentally and physically to carry a team.”
Howard and the Rockets were snuffed by Damian Lillard’s shot last season as the Portland Trail Blazers beat them in a thrilling six-game series. Houston had a terrible offseason this summer but if Howard’s claims are true and has an incredible season, that may not matter. He also revealed what we had all known as well: he came back from the back injury too quickly (though he said he didn’t regret it).
Now that he has a clean bill of health and a clear mind, Dwight Howard may be someone we have to watch out for this coming season.
Dwight Howard picture courtesy of Getty Images.