Whether you think of him as Superman, D Howard or Dwight the Tower Howard, he is a force to be reckoned with. Dwight Howard led the league the past three years in average rebounds per game (14.2, 13.8, 13.2 respectively) as well as in blocks per game the past two years (2.9 and 2.8). These numbers only speak part of his tale, as he has become a mentor and role model for many. His dedication to his faith and his charity work is close to unmatched in the NBA, and the Orlando Magic are lucky to have him.
However, as the All Star Game draws near, there has become talk of trade and contract. Even though Howard has expressed frustration (his contract does not expire until the 2012-20313 season) over these talks, his name has still been thrown into the mix with the likes of Carmelo Anthony. Despite the current rumors and accusations, what would happen if the Magic were to really lose their five-time all star? What happens if he follows a path similar to Shaquille O’Neal? Could they ever recover?
Let us take a look at what Howard means to the team and the possible consequences of his future departure. What will the Orlando Magic miss?
Have you seen him play? Just by turning on ESPN’s SportsCenter, there is mostly likely a Top 10 play featuring Dwight Howard. He is listed as just one inch shy of seven feet, weighs a powerful 265 pounds, has a wingspan around 7’6” and a vertical leap of almost 40 inches.
Many other centers around the league look up to him and not just physically. Although the Magic currently have five players listed at 6’10”, it would be impossible to replace someone of Howard’s caliber.
Howard has been the leading rebounder in all but 15 of the 53 games the Magic have played this season. He is the only Orlando player who has a rebound per game average in the double digits (13.8). Point guard Jameer Nelson is the only other player who has comes close to the number of games started and played in, and his rebounds per game average is only a mere 3.0. Thus, without a big man like Howard, the Magic would be in trouble rebounding-wise.
He is one of the most prolific rebounders in the game, as he has lead the league the past three seasons, with averages per game of 14.2, 13.8, and 13.2 respectively.
So far this season, Howard leads the team in points (22.4), minutes played (36.6), free throws attempted (11.3) and made (6.5), field goals attempted (13.6) and made (7.9), steals (1.24) and blocks (2.08) per game. Your offense would be virtually wiped out with his departure.
Yes, Howard may consistently be in the Top Five list of most bought NBA jerseys, but his marketable persona is more than that. He has a powerful passion for charity work and his faith, as he is constantly active with philanthropies. He has won awards for his volunteerism and is constantly regarded as a role model. He came into the game as a young prospective star and exceeded many expectations. Losing him would break the hearts of many of the Orlando faithful.
Although he is merely 25, he is regarded as the Magic’s “franchise player.” Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are thought of interchangeably. These types of players are the ones who lead you too championships and the ones you want wearing your team’s jersey until retirement. This is true across any professional sport; a team usually does anything to hold on to this player, as the Magic should and will do.
He wants to win an NBA title. He has led the Magic to three division titles and one conference title, but this is not enough for Howard. No amount of hardware can compare to winning an NBA title and being crowned the best team in the league. Granted, every basketball player ideally plays the game with the intent to win it all, but Howard has a drive and desire that does not look like it will end soon. A team does not want to lose something that important.
When some stars do not see results, regardless of how long they have been waiting, they get antsy. Look at LeBron James and Kobe Bryant–when they speak of something they want, they get it one way or another.
Earlier in the season, he was clearly unsatisfied; otherwise the tremendous trade to acquire Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark would have not occurred. His influence is obviously strong in Orlando and around the league and if he becomes dissatisfied (again), more drastic measures might be taken.
If you want to argue that they would survive, then you have to assume that with the departure of a star like Howard would come the acquisition of another star…Pau Gasol or Carmelo Anthony? The Magic would have to make sure they would not lose Howard to a team in the East.
There would undoubtedly be a bitter aftertaste in Orlando if he leaves, thus meaning there would need to be an adequate replacement. With one, the Magic could still win games (they did have a bad patch at the beginning of the season) and possible make a good run in their conference.
When you lose your star, all hope is lost, right? Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers after they lost LeBron James. Although Howard has only missed two games this season and the Magic were 1-1 without him, they have never really experienced a large time without him (he played 351 consecutive games before missing his first).
Thus, it is hard to look at statistical evidence showing what could possibly happen. Yet, when you look at other powerhouse NBA teams that have had to go a significant amount of time without their superstar, the evidence shows how hard the team is hit. Without Dwight Howard leading the way, the Magic would be sunk.
He does not want to leave...at least not yet. His anger and frustration towards rumors are probably fueling him to play even better. The city of Orlando loves him too much, and although that did not stop LeBron James, it is very likely that it will stop Howard. I predict that Howard will be wearing an Orlando Magic jersey for many years to come,and that his moment to win and NBA championship (with them) is sooner than most think.