Is Dwight Howard a Franchise Savior or Ruiner?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers grimaces as he flexes his ailing shoulder in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on January 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  The Nuggets won 112-105.  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.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

A unique presence both on and off the court, Dwight Howard has the ability to change a game for the better and a franchise for the worse.

Since losing in the finals in 2009, everything has gone downhill for Dwight and everyone associated with him.

He contributed to the downfall of the Orlando Magic, resulting in the firings of both head coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith. Now he's in L.A., where the Lakers are experiencing one of the most humiliating seasons in their storied history.

When you acquire Dwight Howard, you acquire a new identity. He's not just some picture frame you can hang up to help spice up the living room. He's an entire wall unit that requires you to reorganize all the furniture prior to installation.

And if that wall unit is ugly, so is your living room.

And Dwight just happens to be on par with some of the most expensive wall units around. Is he worth it? Is he the guy you want to invest your future in?

Sometimes it looks like even he doesn't want to be that guy.

Think about the other "superstars" in the league, and how they approach each game. Kevin Durant looks like he's stuck in the Hunger Games when he takes the floor. Russell Westbrook appears willing to run through traffic just to get that W. These guys have that Liam Neeson look from Taken in their eyes when they suit up for battle.

Dwight Howard has that look of a kid a recess.

While the Thunder were in killer-instinct mode beating the pulp out of the Lakers, Dwight Howard was giggling on the bench like he was first row at a Louis C.K. show. At one point I thought he was going to order a drink from a cocktail waitress.

From a business standpoint, he's just doesn't seem like a guy you want to represent your company.

Not enough on-court production from Howard can justify the sacrifice and cost it takes to acquire him. Teammates have had to change their games, and the coaching staff has to change their game plan. And it's negatively affecting the team's play.

Maybe it's just been bad luck. Maybe he's like the cooler at a casino—the guy who walks over to your blackjack table and everyone starts busting. Or maybe he's just a human-tornado ripping up everything in his path.

For Dwight Howard to be thought of as a savior, he's got to save something, or at least improve it. And right now, he looks more like the guy who's putting everyone around him in danger.