Dwight Howard: Grading Lakers Center's Performance in LA Thus Far

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 13, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated the Lakers 116-107.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Dwight Howard has been under a lot of pressure to perform at a high level this season and help the Los Angeles Lakers win their sixth NBA championship this century.

Despite having a lot of individual and team goals to reach, the superstar center has handled himself very well over the first few months of the 2012-13 season.

Let's grade Howard's performance for the purple and gold thus far.



Howard's offensive production this season has been quite impressive, and his 17.8 points per game average ranks second among all NBA centers.

His .594 field goal percentage is the fourth best among centers, and Howard has also been very consistent as a scorer with 10 or more points scored in 24 of his 27 games this season.

Free throws are still a problem for Howard, and even though he is on pace to improve on his free-throw percentage from last season, his success rate from the line this season is only 50.9 percent, which is awful.

Overall, Howard has been a reliable scorer for the Lakers despite his struggles from the free-throw line.

Grade: A-


Rebounding and Defense

Howard has once again dominated the boards this season and leads the Lakers with 11.9 rebounds per game. He also ranks third among all NBA players in rebounds.

He isn't grabbing as many rebounds per game as he did for the Orlando Magic last season, but when you consider the fact that Howard has to compete for boards with Pau Gasol, who is also a great rebounder, it makes Howard's rebounding numbers look even more impressive.

Statistically speaking, the Lakers are the best rebounding team in the league, and Howard is a major reason for that.

Howard's one-on-one defense has also been fantastic. He leads the team with 2.6 blocks per game, which also ranks fourth in the NBA. He's also fouled out of only two games this year, which proves that his discipline is improving.

Howard has made the Lakers' interior defense much better this season, and as his back continues to get stronger, his rebounding and defense will only improve.

Grade: B+


Adjusting to the Lakers' System, New Teammates

Howard has adjusted pretty well to the Lakers' offensive and defensive schemes, but he still needs to form a better partnership with Gasol, because if these two seven-footers cannot figure out how to play with each other and have success, then Los Angeles will not win the championship this season.

For a player who has no experience playing in a major market like Los Angeles, or with another superstar alongside him, Howard has adjusted well to the Lakers thus far.

However, Howard still has a lot more work to do before he makes the Lakers a legitimate threat to win the Western Conference this year.

His impressive performances this season after recovering from back surgery earlier in the year have given Lakers fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the team's struggles will soon come to an end.

Grade: B