After the disaster that this season developed into for Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, many are questioning if we have seen Dwight’s last days as a Laker.
Howard is a free agent this summer, and despite a subpar season plagued by injury issues and questions about his mental makeup, he will have several suitors.
Dwight’s dominance during his days in Orlando, although largely based on his sheer size and ability to out-muscle the majority, has elevated him to most sought-after center in the league status.
That he has done little to improve or expand his game in his nine NBA seasons gets swept under the rug, as does the fact that he continues to behave like a troubled teen off of the court, in favor of his prowess in the paint. There is a lack of premier post players in the league, so Dwight’s antics are accepted and ignored, muted by post production.
The timing is interesting however, with Howard hitting the market this summer, just as the 76ers will be in the midst of a center search. The franchise thought they landed the foundation of the future when they signed the league’s consensus second-best center, Andrew Bynum last summer.
Injury issues and maybe a slight dearth of dedication prevented Andrew from seeing a single second of action this season, and his abhorrent attitude throughout the process has Philly faithful praying he is shipped out of town as soon as possible.
Although the Bynum move was a bust, the logic behind it; building an athletic, versatile team around a dominant post player, was sound, and could be repeated successfully; that is, if the team is willing to put up with another self-centered center.
Despite the distraction he has developed into, technically Dwight as a Sixer would make sense.
Pairing Howard with an athletic, all-star point guard like Jrue Holiday could work to bring out the best in both of them. It would provide Holiday with a legitimate low-post option and open up the rest of the court for him to operate. Jrue was able to noticeably improve his assist numbers this past season while serving as the team’s central scoring option. Imagine what kind of damage he could do with a prominent post player sharing the scoring load.
Dwight often demands a double team, which would allow athletic wing players like Evan Turner and Thad Young to play off of him, consistently finding less-contested shots. Ideally, Dwight’s dominant presence in the post would open things up for everyone else on the court and allow the offense to flow more fluently; an enormous issue for the team this season. This is the type of formula that was followed by Orlando during their 2009 Finals run.
Howard would solidify the Sixers on the other end of the court also. Dwight’s defense, which has earned him three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, speaks for itself.
From an on-court perspective, trying to sign Howard seems to make sense for the Sixers. If the Sixers had Howard in hand, it would immediately give them an advantage over many of the teams in the East without an adequate answer for his post presence, and would almost certainly put them back in the playoff picture.
Such a signing seems sensible from Dwight’s side as well. Howard thrived while being the main option in Orlando, but struggled this season embracing a role as a secondary scorer. In Philadelphia, Dwight would serve as an anchor to the offense with a plethora of plays running directly through him.
Also, Dwight didn’t seem to appreciate the pressure that came with playing for the purple and gold, as the championship expectations weighed heavy on his already aching back. It is safe to assume that the Sixers organization has a slightly different aim for the immediate future than the Finals-frequenting Lakers, and pulling Philly back into the playoff picture may not seem as daunting to Dwight as spearheading another Laker dynasty.
Signing with a franchise such as the Sixers, where he would become the focal point but not be immediately expected to take the team to a title, seems to be an ideal situation for Dwight.
If interested however, the 76ers need to approach Howard with caution. He is known for keeping teams hostage while waffling about where and how his services should be best spent, and he does not necessarily seem to ingratiate himself with his coaches or teammates.
However, at least he plays, and usually produces, which is more than the Sixers could say about last summer’s blockbuster center signing.