In 2015, Dwight Howard said he wanted to play 20 seasons in the NBA. He also later admitted he considered retiring the same year.
After that career crossroads, Howard is back on the longevity track.
Entering his 15th season, the 32-year-old Wizards center is focused on getting into shape and developing his game.
Justin Zormelo, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
“He wants to evolve into Anthony Davis, into Kevin Durant,” Zormelo says, “but his own version of that.”
This sounds silly at first. Durant and Davis are far more skilled than Howard. But those superstars provide reasonable goals for Howard.
Durant – who has expanded his game the other way, going outside to inside – shows how to blend playing different styles. Davis provides an example of how to work off the ball as a modern big man.
Howard shouldn’t want to lose his strengths as an elite rebounder and interior defender, but he can move in the direction of Durant and Davis.
After getting pretty big with the Hawks, Howard slimmed down with the Hornets and excelled in transition. He also improved significantly as a ball-handler, allowing him to put even more pressure on the defense in advantage situations and attack with face-ups.
Howard hasn’t shown proficiency as an outside shooter, but that could be his next step. The concern: Howard falls in love with shooting the way he did with post-ups, and he takes too many inefficient shots.
But there’s still something encouraging about someone working so hard to improve this far into his career.
Of course, on-court improvement won’t be enough for Howard. He has quietly produced or near star level in Atlanta and Charlotte. The problems came in the locker room. Howard’s attitude must improve, too.
Maybe it’ll all come together for him, and he’ll thrive through the rest of his 30s. He’s saying all the right things.
But we’ve also been here before.