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NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Is Dwight Howard a Franchise Player? Charles Barkley Doesn’t Think So

USA TODAY – Gary A. Vasquez

Is Dwight Howard even a franchise player? I’m starting to question this myself.

After watching how Roy Hibbert played against the Miami Heat and how Tim Duncan has re-surged — taking the San Antonio Spurs 28 seconds away from a 5th world title — I’m wondering if Howard is the best big man in the league anymore. I know he came with back surgery last year, played with a torn labrum too — however, something just didn’t seem right.

It’s almost like he has regressed. I’m not seeing the foot-work, or post move development for a eight-year veteran player. He seriously needs to attend a Hakeem Olajuwon post move clinic or call up Shaquille O’neal (seriously, doubt he would call Shaq). Howard should be averaging 25 and 10.

Is that too much to ask?

Charles Barkley also sounded off last week in a Dan Patrick interview:

“I’ve always subscribed to the theory that Dwight was a franchise player you can build your team around and Shaq does not think so. I gotta tell you something, I’m starting to side with Shaq a little bit. I think Dwight is a very, very good player, but I’m not sure he has that mental toughness to be a franchise player. Because the one thing you have to be, have to be, you have to be tough … watching him crumble under criticism from Kobe, criticism from fans, criticism from the media this year. I’m not sure he can stay in LA, because Kobe’s only going to play another year anyway, and then it will be Dwight’s team and all that pressure will be on his back.”

Barkley understands what it means to be a franchise player, as he was the No. 1 option with the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley had thick skin, a “don’t-mess-with-me” attitude, and played at an extremely competitive level — however he ended up playing in the Michael Jordan era, so Barkley ended up title-less.

Recent speculation has linked Howard with Chris Paul as they hope to “team up” next year. I’m not certain that’s even a possibility, but the L.A. drama will continue until the official start of free agency begins.

Eric N. Ellington covers the Los Angeles Lakers for Rant Sports. Follow him at @EricNEllington