Putting Dwight’s Career Night Into Context
Dwight Howard made the statement prior to the start of the season that he wished to be traded from the Orlando Magic, and then it seemed as though he had flip flopped. But then Otis Smith went on the record to say that Howard had not backed off his request and still essentially wanted out of Orlando.
According to multiple reports, D12 has provided the Magic organization with a wish list of teams with whom he would accept to join. It’s important to understand that Howard cannot actual veto any trade in which he is involved; however his ability to become a free agent (he has a player option allowing to opt out of his current contract at the end of the 2011-2012 season) at the conclusion of this season make it extremely important that Howard actually goes to a team of his choosing; otherwise that team would give up valuable assets to acquire the big man only to see him walk away at the end of the season.
The teams on Dwight Howard’s list were the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets.
Mind you, the Golden State Warriors have decided recently to infiltrate trade talks revolving around the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Although the Dubs are not on Dwight’s list, they seem to nonetheless be interested in taking a gamble on acquiring the player and then figuring things out afterwards to keep him in the Bay.
Whether it happens or not, we will see; but Howard definitely seemed to be sending out a message to the Warriors as well as the rest of the NBA last night when the Magic were victorious at Oracle Arena.
Indeed, there had been several reactions from various people in the media about Dwight’s approach this season as well as his overall talent. A few examples of things said about the former Slam Dunk Champion:
“Dwight does not seem invested. He has a head out the door and is just going through the motions.”
“Andrew Bynum may well be better than Dwight Howard.”
“If Dwight is so great, how come he is only putting up 18 and 14 per game?”
On the other hand, Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA last night had this to offer: “I like Andrew Bynum, but I love Dwight Howard.”
It’s obvious that Howard is a prime talent, but he is becoming somewhat of a polarizing figure. And thus, the best he could do was make a huge statement on national television by having a terrific game; and that’s exactly what the All-Star center did.
Last night, Dwight Howard scored 45 points and collected 23 rebounds all the while swatting away two shots against the Golden State Warriors. The numbers themselves are extremely impressive; we are talking about Shaquille and Wilt numbers here, but perhaps for the first time in ever D12 looked like the most dominant and best player in the NBA.
He was quicker, stronger and more agile than the three-headed monster of Andris Biedrins, Ekpe Udoh and David Lee; but last night he showed something that most casual fans had not seen before from the big man: touch.
Howard muscled his way to a few dunks last night, but he also faced up his defender, drove baseline for lay ups (on one occasion, he even had a reverse lay in), backed his man and then finished with a few running hooks and even displayed a few post moves in conjunction with some terrific footwork to get to the rim and finish.
In other words, Dwight played like a center last night. With the Warriors alternating between their hack-a-Howard strategy and playing him straight up, D12 took it as a sign of disrespect and attacked his man repeatedly.
Indeed, the leading All-Star vote getter converted 8-of-11 shots right at the rim and also showed off he is more than just a dunker by converting 4-of-9 shots from 3 to 9 feet according to Hoopdata.
He combined his offensive explosion with great interior defense to keep the Warriors players out of the paint. He stripped the ball out of David Lee’s hands on a few occasions, rejected a few shots and kept other players out of the paint simply with his intimidating presence.
Whether Dwight was trying to send a message or not; he certainly did. His play last night served the league with a reminder of just how talented and dominant the big man is.
With Otis Smith in the building Thursday night to watch his star player annihilate the Golden State frontcourt, one can only wonder how excited he was to watch Dwight boost his trade value, but also at the same time he must have had a knot in his stomach because it’s becoming painfully clear that the Dwight era in Orlando is coming to an end.
Might as well go out with a bang though…
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