Dwight Howard has struggled in recent years. His fall from the top began in 2012 when he teamed up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Superman lasted only one year in Hollywood amid reports he consumed copious amounts of candy, and his locker room attitude rubbed Bryant the wrong way. Howard left for the Houston Rockets during the summer of 2013, forming what was supposed to be a championship twosome with James Harden. Superman made his final All-Star squad in his first year with the Rockets, but he got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Howard only played 41 games the following season with several injuries, including a knee issue, back problems, and an ankle sprain. During the 2015-16 season, Howard suited up for 71 games, but his previous injuries seemed to sap his athleticism, and he only averaged 13.7 points per game.
After three seasons, Howard left Houston in 2016, beginning his extensive tour around the league. First, he went to Atlanta for one season, then Charlotte, Washington, LA, Philly, and back to LA this year for his third stint with the Lakers.
It’s good to focus on the present, but we can’t forget the past. Don’t let Dwight Howard’s most recent seasons convince you he isn’t one of the most talented big men to lace them up. Superman terrorized the league for nearly a decade, racking up top-level statistics and a full trophy case of hardware.
Below we’ll break down Dwight Howard’s Hall-of-Fame career.
Total Stats - 19,444 Points, 14,600 Rebounds, 1,671 Assists, 1,079 Steals, 2,226 Blocks
Dwight Howard might not have featured an entire bag of post up tricks. Still, he used his strength to overpower smaller defenders while utilizing his athleticism to dash around bulkier centers in the lane. He was also a putback machine, a solid pick and roll rim runner, and he was probably the best transition center to play the game, a 6-11 buzz saw who took great pleasure in finishing highlight alley-oops over slower, less mobile big men.
Dwight Howard was also a rebounding machine, using his strength and incredible hops to gobble up offensive and defensive rebounds. During his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, Superman was the league’s premier rim protector, blocking two to three shots nightly while altering countless more attempts at the rim.
Here’s a breakdown of where Dwight Howard stands all time:
19,444 total points: 61st all time
14,600 Rebounds: 11th all time
1,079 Steals: 148th all time
2,226 Blocks: 15th all time
NBA Champion (2020)
Dwight Howard led the Magic to the postseason during five of his eight seasons in Florida. At age 23, he guided Orlando to the finals, averaging a massive 20.3 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 2.6 BPG. He attracted constant double teams in the lane, creating open looks from deep for teammates Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and J. J. Redick. In the finals, Dwight Howard and the Magic ran into the All-Star tandem, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, losing in five games in what was his lone trip to the NBA’s penultimate round for over a decade.
Dwight Howard played 11 more seasons before he made it back to the NBA finals with the Lakers in 2020 as a backup center. Howard averaged only 5.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 0.4 BPG throughout 18 postseason games. However, his defense against Nikola Jokic during the Western Conference Finals was instrumental in helping the Lakers win that series 4 games to 1.
3x Defensive Player Of The Year (2009, 2010, 2011)
Dwight Howard went on a three-year terror spree from 2009 through 2011, taking down back-to-back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards. In 2009 Howard led the league with 2.9 blocks per game, 13.8 rebounds per game, and 7.6 Defensive Win Shares on the season. During 2010, he was back at it, leading the league again in blocks (2.8), rebounds (13.2), and DWS (7.1). In 2011 Dwight Howard once again finished first in the NBA in Defensive Win Shares with 7.7 while pulling down 14.1 boards nightly and blocking 2.4 shots per game.
During Dwight Howard’s Defensive Player of the Year three-peat, he led a Magic squad full of ho-hum perimeter defenders—Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, and J. J. Redick—to the number one rated defense in 2009, the third-ranked defense in 2010, and again the third-ranked D in 2011. An in-his-prime Dwight Howard had Giannis’s perimeter mobility mixed with Gobert’s inside-the-lane deterrent skills. For an eight-year stretch, Howard’s presence alone ensured his squad had an elite defense.
8x NBA All-Star (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010,2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Dwight Howard made eight consecutive All-Star games between 2007 and 2014. During that span, he averaged a massive 19.5 PPG and 13.3 RPG double-double along with 1.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.3 BPG, and 59.0 FG%. Throughout Howard’s eight-year All-Star campaign, he also topped the NBA in Defensive Win Shares at a total of 47.9, and he had a very impressive 30.0 Defensive Rebound Percentage and an equally notable 4.8 Block Percentage.
The All-Star Game is a guard or wing showcase, often leaving centers as mere spectators. Still, Dwight Howard averaged double figures during four of his trips to the NBA’s mid-season festivities, topping out with 20 points and 12 rebounds in 2007.
8x All-NBA Team (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Dwight Howard was named All-NBA First Team for five consecutive years from 2008 through 2012. He made the All-NBA Second Team once in 2014, and he was selected to the Third Team twice during the 2007 and 2013 seasons.
Dwight Howard’s five All-NBA First Team Selections might not seem like a lot, but many people don’t realize how difficult it is for a center to be named to the first team. Two guards and two forwards make the cut, but only one 5 can earn All-NBA First Team honors.
Joel Embiid, 28, is one of this decade’s leading centers and has never been named All-NBA First Team. Rudy Gobert, 29, is a defensive stalwart and three-time All-Star, yet he has never made All-NBA First Team. Nikola Jokic is the best center of the last decade and last year’s MVP, but he has only made All-NBA First Team twice.
Here’s the point: Dwight Howard’s five consecutive All-NBA First Team selections are impressive as hell, and nearly unheard of from a center. Howard was an incredible two-way force throughout his 20s.
5x All-Defensive Team (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Dwight Howard put up some of the best defensive numbers we’ve ever seen during his five-year All-Defensive Team run. He led the league in total defensive rebounds all five seasons with 882, 757, 798, 789, and 585, respectively, while missing only 19 games. Howard also led the league in total blocks during 2009 and 2010 with 231 stuffs and 228 rejections the following season. Superman didn’t notch more blocks in 2011 and 2012 because opposing guards and wings stopped driving into the lane when they faced the Magic, wisely choosing instead to pull up from mid-range instead of getting swatted at the rack.
Dwight Howard guarded the lane for his Orlando squad like a male lion controlling his territory against an array of predators. He was ferocious next to the rack, abusing opposing centers into ugly fadeaway jumpers and providing some of this generation’s best back-line/mistake-canceling defense. YET, he only committed 576 total shooting fouls from 2008 to 2012 (he drew 1,747 fouls), a number that seems impossible when you consider the type of defensive responsibility he undertook nightly.
Dwight Howard’s rim protection, rebounding, and agility from across all levels of the court was remarkable, but the fact he did all without fouling is another bullet point on his Hall-of-Fame resume.
5x Rebounding Leader (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
Dwight Howard was a 6-11 center with a 7-5 wingspan who moved like a wing and could jump out of the building. He used his incredible physical attributes to snag rebounds, the ultimate one-and-done center for the Orlando Magic.
Howard led the league in rebounding for five seasons. Have a look:
2008: 14.2 RPG, 10.9 ORB%, 31.6 DRB%
2009: 13.8 RPG, 13.8 ORB%, 29.5 DRB%
2010: 13.2 RPG, 12.0 ORB%, 31.3 DRB%
2012: 14.5 RPG, 11.0 ORB%, 33.1 DRB%
2013: 12.4 RPG, 10.4 ORB%, 27.4 DRB%
Superman not only routinely cleaned up roughly 1/3 of the available defensive rebounds, but he picked up multiple offensive rebounds nightly, creating second and third looks for his teammates while taking the life out of the opposition with his hustle on the boards.
Dwight Howard is one of the best rebounders in NBA history. He’s ranked 11th all-time in boards at 14,600 total rebounds, and he averaged double-digit boards per game during 14 seasons in a row from 2005 through 2018.
2x Blocks Leader (2009, 2010)
Dwight Howard led the league in blocks in 2009 with 2.9 per game and again in 2010 with 2.8 blocks per contest. Dwight Howard is 15th all-time in blocks with 2,226 total rejections.
Dwight Howard is one of the best weakside defenders ever. During Howard’s prime, he played with a group of perimeter defenders, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Vince Carter, and J. J. Redick (just to name a few), who were at best considered weak on the less fun end. Still, Howard nearly single-handedly led the Magic to some of the best team defensive metrics in the league from 2007 through 2012, never allowing his Orlando squads to finish outside the top-10 in Defensive Rating.
Dwight Howard canceled more mistakes than any player during that stretch, a high-flying, long-armed menace, who flew around the middle of the court erasing dozens of layup attempts nightly while stifling his own assignments, turning them into pass-first mid-range jump shooters for the night.
You can say what you want about Dwight Howard’s later years or his leadership skills, but you can’t deny he was a defensive juggernaut during his prime.
Total Double-Doubles - 747 (4th In NBA History)
Dwight Howard lands fourth in NBA history behind only Tim Duncan (841), Karl Malone (814), and Hakeem Olajuwon (775) in double-doubles with 747.
Dwight Howard jumped into the league as a 19-year-old teenager and pulled down his first season-long double-double of his career, notching 12.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG for the Orlando Magic. Howard would go on to average 14 consecutive double-doubles from the 2004-05 season through the 2017-18 season, an extended feat of inside excellence that only a handful of Hall-of-Famers come close to matching.
Shaq managed 13 consecutive double-double seasons.
Hakeem topped out at 12 double-double seasons in a row.
David Robinson, a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, only recorded seven straight double-double seasons.
You get the point.
Dwight Howard consistently gave his team excellent offensive and defensive rebounding, swarming the rack on both sides of the ball, extending possessions for his teammates while shutting down the boards on the other end. Howard might not have had the offensive footwork of Hakeem Olajuwon or a Kareem-like go-to move. Still, he consistently racked up points by sprinting down the court and establishing a good low post position or by running out for easy, fast-break opportunities.
Dwight Howard was a points and rebounds guarantee for much of his career, landing well above Hall-of-Famers, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Garnett, and Chris Webber in total double-doubles.
Olympic Gold Medal Winner (2008)
The 2008 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team featured a Who’s Who list of superstars, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade. Dwight Howard was right there with the other US stars in fame and statistical accomplishments.
In 2008, Dwight Howard was at the peak of his powers. He finished the NBA’s regular season, averaging 20.7 PPG, 14.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 2.1 BPG as he led the Orlando Magic into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since Shaq left for Los Angeles.
Dwight Howard was Team USA’s (The Redeem Team) starting center. He averaged 10.9 PPG along with 5.8 RPG and 0.9 BPG in Beijing for Team USA, which went 8-0, dominating the international competition on the way to a gold medal.
Slam Dunk Champion (2008)
Dwight Howard’s slam dunk competition win in 2008 set the league on fire. The NBA had never seen a legitimate 7-footer jump the way Howard did.
Dwight Howard started the 2008 dunk competition by dunking from behind the backboard. Then he put on his superman cape and flew from the free throw line, dunking the ball and sending the entire New Orleans crowd on their feet, jaws dropping.
Dwight Howard was a big name before the 2008 dunk contest, and after he won the thing, his brand grew along with his exploits on the court.
Dwight Howard Is A First Ballot Hall-Of-Famer
Here’s a quick summary of Dwight Howard’s NBA accomplishments:
Over 19K Points
Over 14K Rebounds
Over 2K Blocks
3x Defensive Player of the Year
8x NBA All-Star
5x All-Defensive Team
5x Rebounding Leader
2x Blocks Leader
4th All-Time in Double-Doubles
Olympic Gold Medalist
Slam Dunk Champion
Howard’s defensive peak was better than anything Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, or any modern-day defensive center offers. Howard manhandled opposing centers on the block as he provided terrorizing defense on the weak side. He cleaned up his teammate’s mistakes, and propelling the Orlando Magic to some of the most dominant defensive units in the NBA during the first decade of the 21st century.
Howard’s five-year stretch from 2007 through 2012 included one finals appearance, three Defensive Player of the Year Awards, five All-NBA selections, and five All-Star appearances. It was one of the best half-decades from any center in NBA history.
Dwight Howard’s list of awards and his playoff success clearly make him a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.