Long before Dwight Howard made the decision not to return to the Los Angeles Lakers and head to the Houston Rockets, many had their mind made up about the former Defensive Player of the Year — and the opinion was not a positive one. Those of a critical opinion — myself included — couldn’t bear Howard’s antics much longer and questioned his mental toughness among other things.
Having teamed up with James Harden in Houston, I was just happy that the whole “Dwightmare” saga was over. Did I believe he would revert to his previous ways and become the juggernaut he used to be? I was hesitant, but I didn’t think he’d be playing this well this soon.
Through the first few games of the 2013 season, Howard has quieted his critics — including yours truly. I can’t argue with his numbers early on, maybe outside of his free throw shooting — but what would you expect? Shaq couldn’t knock those down either, but I think it all worked out just fine for him. But, that’s a debate for another day.
Howard has been lights out in almost every aspect. He’s played efficiently on offense, averaging over 18 points on 53.6 percent shooting. Grabbing just short of 15 rebounds per game, Howard has established himself as the premier rebounder yet again in this league. It’s almost effortless when he’s at his best, and that my friend, is truly special.
Defensively, he’s been fantastic as he’s averaged 2.3 blocks per game along with his mere presence in the paint. That alone, at times, can do wonders. Alongside Omer Asik, Howard hasn’t had to be the best defender in all of basketball like he used to be, but having another great defender next to him has surely helped.
For now, I can’t say many negative things about Howard’s performance in the early going. I can absolutely address the Rockets’ weaknesses and reasons why they will most certainly not win a championship the way they’re currently playing. But, again, that is a debate to be had on another day. Right now, we can just sit back and acknowledge the fact that Howard has been superb in this young stage of the season.