Is Dwight Howard overrated?
According to a recently done ranking on Espn.com Dwight Howard is the #2 player in the NBA. According to Nets fans he is a super human hybrid of Shaq, Wilt and Russell who will save thier franchise. So we must ask ourselves, is Howard truly the #2 player in the world? Is he truly one of the best Centers to ever play in the NBA?
Lets break this down in two parts. First lets talk about his offense.
Dwight is currently in his 8th season in the NBA and is avg. 20.1 ppg good for 18th in the league. His career avg is 18.3 ppg and he's never avg more than 22 ppg. What about his post season numbers? They are basically the same. The only year thier was a noticible difference was last year when he avg. 27 ppg but that can be attributed to the strategy of the opposing team which was to let Dwight do what he wanted because they knew that by himself he wasn't going to hurt them and it worked as Orlando was eliminated in the first round.
I think its fairly obvious that Dwight was not rated the #2 player in the NBA because of his offense, from his stats and play we can tell that he is a good player on offense, a monster in the paint, but most of his points come from offensive rebounds and dunks. In the past year his offense has improved, but at age 26 hes pretty much peaked. He is not going to all of a sudden start avg 25ppg. If you look at great recent centers from the past Shaq, Zo,Jermaine, Duncan they all peaked at about age 26, they played great for years after that but that was when thier stats were at thier highest. Another disturbing stat every one of those centers had a definte dip in thier production after their 8th season...Which is even more alarming when you realize Dwights game is heavily based on his physical advantage in the post, he doesn't have a great jump shot or a sweet hook shot to fall back on, when he starts to lose a step it might very well get ugly fast. So Dwight might score around 20 ppg for the next few years but chances are, more likely than not, his numbers aren't going up anymore. If anything his stats will start to slowly go the other way. (yes 20 pts a game is great, but for someone who is supposedly the "#2" player in the world? Not so much.) One final note on his offense, Game 7 NBA finals a few seconds left Deron is throwing in the ball who do you want to take that last shot? Dwight or Brook? Unless its an alley oop you have to think Brook has the better chance of scoring don't you? (especially if they decide to foul....)
On to his defense. Can't really say anything bad about Dwight there. Hes in the top 3 in the league every year in blocks and rebounds and he just won his third defensive player of the year.
Lets look a little closer though. This year Dwight is 8th in the league in Blocks, yes 8th (5th now after that 8 block outburst friday night). I know Blocks don't tell the whole story when it comes to defense but that is kind of low for the "2nd" best player in the NBA. Especially when he has the bad habit of blocking shots so hard they go out of bounds and thus right back to the opposing team. Even more disturbing his blocks have gone down every year for the past 4 years.
As for his rebounding I only have one small nitpick as great as his numbers are experts agree that his numbers are somewhat inflated because before this year he didn't play with anybody who was any good at rebounding. So keep that in mind when you are looking at his rebounding numbers.
Is he the best defensive player in the NBA? Probably. Is he Head and Shoulders better than everybody else? No.
If everything you just read is true, then why is he rated so highly? How can he be rated #2 in the NBA? I Believe there are two reasons for this. The first reason is that he does everything Big His Blocks are big, constantly swatting them out of bounds with brute force, His dunks are vicious, when he was in the dunk contest he always put on a big show. Everything he does is big, everything he does is a highlight.So its only natural that we will see him as bigger than he really he is.
Reason number two is very simply luck. He came into the league at the perfect time for him. All the Great centers around were on thier decline. After a few years there was really nobody to compare him to. The only other center of his time was Yao Ming but he kept getting hurt.
Then luck struck twice as the new centers who came in also started getting
hurt (Bynum,Bogut and last year Brook was recovering from Mono and this year the foot injury)
So Dwight has not only been the best Center in basketball but we have had no one to really compare him to, so with no one to compare him to he becomes even bigger than what he really is.
I am not saying Dwight is not the best center in the game right now, he most definitly is. What I am saying is his value is not as high as people think. Take our Nets for example I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that Brook lopez is going to score more points than Dwight over the next 5 years. So the question to ask yourself is, Is Dwight Howards defense so much better than Brook's Defense that the Nets need to give up cap space, draft picks, Lopez and Brooks?