Dwight Howard Says Ego Is 'Dead,' Talks Wanting to Play Like Draymond Green

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2019

Injured Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard practices before the Wizards face the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

As he prepares to likely open his fifth straight NBA season with a different team, Dwight Howard is prepared to drastically alter his game.

In an interview with Stadium and The Athletic's Shams Charania, Howard explained how he was inspired by Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green:

"I want to be whatever a team needs me to be. I've played in every situation so far. I used to really hate how Draymond plays, but what I noticed watching him during these playoffs was that he does everything for the team.

"He's everywhere. He'll get a tech, he'll take a charge, he'll be everywhere on defense. He's talking. He does everything. It doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but it shows up in the mind of everyone watching. I want to be that person."

Howard also said his ego is "dead" and that "it had to die for me to be who I am."

It would be easier to get behind a redemption narrative around the eight-time All-Star (last selected in 2014) if hadn't already unsuccessfully tried to turn his career around.

The 33-year-old spoke at length with Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins in September 2017 after his trade to the Charlotte Hornets, owning up to his immaturity and the mistakes he made with the Orlando Magic, with whom he played his first eight seasons.

The Washington Post's Candace Buckner wrote last August how his trainers were trying to enable him to play into his 40s by "building a more modern, intellectually and structurally sound version of him—Dwight 2.0." One of Howard's trainers added he hoped to become a version of Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant.

NBA fans know how this has all played out.

The Hornets traded Howard to the Brooklyn Nets following the 2017-18 season, and he subsequently signed with the Washington Wizards as a free agent. He spent one year in the nation's capital before the Wizards traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Identifying the need to adapt is all well and good. Howard's rapid decline correlates directly with the NBA's shift away from traditional centers.

The problem is he seems incapable of making the necessary changes to his game. At a time when Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins are attempting to stretch the floor, Howard isn't doing that.

The Atlanta native has nine three-point attempts over the past three seasons, and a little over 64 percent of his shots came within three feet of the rim during that time, per Basketball Reference.

Howard turns 34 in December and has spent 15 years in the NBA after being the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004. Chances are that he's too far gone to be a demonstrably different player than he has been for the entirety of his career.

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