It has been almost two seasons since we have seen Dwight Howard play up to his potential with consistency. During his one season with the Los Angeles Lakers last year, Howard was a shell of himself. Sure, he averaged 17.1 PPG and 12.4 RPG, but he is better than that. Now, he appears to be showing it again.
In the month of February, the Houston Rockets are 7-1, and the reason why is because the real Dwight Howard has shown up. So far in February, he is averaging 23.1 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.5 BLKPG and is shooting 63.3 percent from the field. He hasn’t posted numbers that good across the board since March of 2011.
On Sunday evening, Howard added to his big month by posting 25 points, nine boards, two blocks and shooting 10-of-13 from the field in a 115-112 win over the Phoenix Suns. Howard has given the Rockets a steady offensive contributor that they can count on to relieve some of the pressure on James Harden on a nightly basis.
Howard has not had a month with the Rockets where he averaged more than 19.1 PPG; that is not the kind of production Houston was expecting when they signed him this offseason. The Rockets have surrounded Howard with an All-Star guard in Harden and 3-point shooters at every other position. He has room to work in the paint, and only one man to beat for most offensive rebounds, so that production is not what the Rockets want.
The Rockets want the Howard they have seen in February, and I think that is the Howard they will get for the remainder of the season. On Thursday, he made his return to Los Angeles and was booed so feverishly that it got to him. At one point, he was chanting “Howard sucks” along with the Staples Center crowd. You could tell he was bothered, and it helped him reach another level. Howard embracing a more villainous role is working for him, and he should keep it up.
This is the Dwight Howard that led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, and the Rockets are hoping that this is the same player that can lead them to an NBA Championship this season and beyond.