Dwight Howard is out of contract with the Los Angeles Lakers after this season and while another could very well be on the cards, it’s safe to say that Howard hasn’t been even close to the same player he was in his prime with the Orlando Magic. Dwight has spoken about his desire to return to the Lakers next year, but even if he does come back, it will be in the capacity of a role player and his minutes are much likelier to go down than they are to go up.
If someone had predicted that Howard would be in the league for several years as a role player to end his career in 2010, people would have laughed at them. But with his injuries and the way the game has changed, that’s exactly how it has turned out for the once perennial All-Star.
And the predictions of many media members and fans from that time now end up looking foolish in hindsight, perhaps none more so than the one Bill Simmons made in 2007 (via Grantland).
“One other bonus with Howard that nobody mentions: Because he’s a devout Christian, even when he turns 35 in 2020, those will be Christian years — he won’t have any of that smoking-drinking-partying mileage on him, which means he could play at a high level until his early-40s (much like how Kurt Warner keeps chugging along at age 36).
“In other words, Howard could and should shatter nearly every rebounding record if he stays healthy, and even if he averages a 23-13 for the next 12 years (a conservative guess), when you throw in his previous three seasons, Howard would suddenly be in striking distance of two-thirds of the conceivable NBA records that ever meant anything. And to think, just seven months ago, I wasn’t sure if he was better than Al Jefferson.”
Howard never averaged 23 points per game in his entire NBA career, the closest he came was in the 2010-11 season with 22.9. Furthermore, in his last 4 seasons, he hasn’t even been a starter for his team, getting relegated to a bench role. As good as prime Dwight Howard was, things haven’t worked out for him the way they might have, and the snub from the 75th Anniversary Team just compounds how much his stock fell throughout his career.