Dwight Howard: 2011 Draft Picks Give Orlando Magic a Chance to Keep Howard

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IJune 26, 2011

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27:  DeAndre Liggins #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels in the east regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Prudential Center on March 27, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Orlando can do it.

The Orlando Magic can actually manage to keep Dwight Howard. If the Magic want to get the job done, they must begin rebuilding, but we should at least consider the fact that he has a chance to stay.

I know that I have been one of the largest pessimists about the subject matter, but looking back at the situation, now that the draft has passed, there is actually the possibility that Otis Smith can signal to the world that he is not the biggest screw-up in the history of the franchise.

Not that he has not made significant decisions in the past, it just seems that his most recent scuffles with making the right choice has provided him with two extremely trade worthy players and a superstar on the outs with his own organization.

Between criticizing franchise decisions behind closed doors and the efforts of his own teammates during vital moments on the court, Dwight Howard seems more on his way out of the door than LeBron James in that fatal free agency summer that was bestowed upon the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This year’s draft has brought me to the brighter side of life and allowed me to realize that there is still a chance, no matter how slim it may be, that Dwight Howard will don an Orlando Magic jersey for the rest of his NBA career.

I watched bright-eyed and bushy tailed as Justin Harper’s draft rights were traded to the Orlando Magic and as DeAndre Liggins was selected as the 53rd pick in the second round.

My faith was renewed.

These two men may not be the highlighted saviors of this year’s lineup, but there is an undeniable rumble in streets of Orlando now that they have been called to duty. If you are not excited about what they will be able to bring to the table, don’t worry.

I will be more than glad to help you along the road to acceptance. Harper may not have had the prettiest road to the league, but the hard work he put in on his way here should signal to fans of the game that he is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make his mark on the franchise.

Harper has made significant improvements to so many fractions of his game that it would be unthinkable to say that he did not belong amongst the ranks that he dwells with today. He was not nicknamed the next Kobe Bryant like Marshon Brooks, but he has seasoned himself as a Richmond Spider to become more accurate as a three-point shooter and more effective free throw shooter.

Do not start the comparisons to Ryan Anderson, because Harper has the potential to reach far beyond a role player that only comes in the game to be used as a perimeter asset. Harper can be a legitimate starter for Orlando, even though a lot of people look at bigs who can shoot as one trick ponies.

Harper could stand to bulk up a bit to fit the mold of the four, even though he has the capabilities to play at both the three and the four. He must work on his rebounding efforts, but will not be asked to carry much of the scoring load so he will have the opportunity to expand his talents in that arena.

Then we take the long road over to the Kentucky Wildcats playground to see why DeAndre Liggins was snatched up in the same night as Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson. If you really did not pay much attention to the depth of the Kentucky team during the NCAA tournament and only focused on Knight, you may have missed all that Liggins was able to supply on the defensive end of the floor.

In the game against Ohio State in the tournament, people were so concerned about how Jared Sullinger would be stopped that they did not really feed much into how effective Harrellson and Liggins would be against a more seasoned and supposedly more talented team like the Buckeyes.

However, DeAndre was most impressive against Harrison Barnes and the UNC Tar Heels. His perimeter defense locked Barnes down in the last moments of the game after he hit a three to pull away by four with 35 seconds left.

Liggins can contribute offensively and defensively to the team in ways that the dwindling Jameer Nelson has failed Howard at times.

The new addition of these players will be imperative to Dwight’s decision to stay in Orlando. It is great to pair him with people who are hot right now, but stacking players alongside him that have yet to dawn upon their prime will prove to be the greatest asset of longevity.

If you build it, he will come.