Rick Fox Blasts Dwight Howard, Says Laker Star Big Man Has 'Loser's Mentality'

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the game with four fouls against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
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Former Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox took to the airwaves to deliver yet another harsh criticism of Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Appearing on 710 ESPN radio's "Max and Marcellus" show on Monday afternoon, Fox continued the verbal assaults being thrown in Howard's direction.

Fox took exception to Howard's incessant pleas for an increased role in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense.

"That's a loser's mentality," Fox said.

He pointed toward Howard's inability to lead an offense even as the No. 1 option. During Howard's most proficient seasons with Orlando, he only topped 21 points per game once (22.9 in 2010-11). Without a reliable post game and his obvious struggles at the free-throw line (sub-50 percent in each of the past two seasons), it's easy to understand why people question his ability as a primary option.

Perhaps if Kobe Bryant were having a lesser season (27.4 points per game, 46.6 percent field-goal shooting), Howard's words would carry more validity. Perhaps it's even as simple as Howard  becoming more effective with the touches he's receiving necessitating an enhanced role.

On the season, Bryant's held nearly a 10-percent edge in usage rate (31.7-21.0). He's also taken on a lion's share of the distributing responsibility, be that while Steve Nash was sidelined by injury or since Nash has returned to the floor a shell of his former self.

Yet, with the obvious discrepancy in terms of both touches and the areas of the floor where those touches are coming, Howard has nearly matched Bryant in turnovers (3.0 to 3.4 per game, respectively). 

To put those numbers in further context, Howard has turned the ball over more than fellow bigs holding much higher usage rates. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers has a 26.1 usage rate, plays nearly four more minutes per night and has barely half of Howard's turnovers (1.8). The Utah Jazz frontcourt duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap logs a collective 63.3 minutes per game. They hold a combined 47.4 usage rate, yet together average fewer turnovers than Howard (2.9).

On the season, 16 percent of Howard's possessions have resulted in a turnover (per ESPN.com). He has the 24th-worst turnover ratio in the NBA and by far the heaviest workload of any player in the top 25. Perhaps if he were balancing those turnovers with assists, he'd carry a more weighty argument, but he's not. In fact, he's never even averaged two assists per game.

Fox added that rather than focusing on simply his number of offensive touches, Howard should instead channel that frustration into other areas of his game, namely defense and rebounding. Howard needs to sacrifice statistics for the betterment of the franchise, something that Fox experienced firsthand during three championship runs with the Lakers in the early 2000s:

“It’s about your own commitment to excellence in the area of team success,” Fox said. “Not so much are you going to make 100-million dollars and is your career going to be ok.”

Howard won't be short on suitors when he hits the free-agent market in the upcoming summer, but whatever support he feels will come from those increased touches, he's already lost through an apparent selfish attitude that's drawn criticisms from fellow Lakers past and present.

From the team's struggles to his body language to his role in the offense, Howard's had a miserable start to his Lakers' career.

The question will be whether or not the experience has been so bad that he's willing to pass up the additional one year and approximately $30 million that only the Lakers can offer him.

When pressed on the issue in the past, the Lakers' front office has sounded confident about their ability to keep the big man draped in purple and gold beyond this season.

But as this confounding, excruciating season wears on, the question worth asking is, just how many Lakers would like to keep Howard around?


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