Cohen: Player Evolution - Dwight Howard

By Josh Cohen
December 1, 2011

ORLANDO -- Throughout training camp and the preseason, I will analyze the evolution of each player on the Orlando Magic. In this edition, I break down Dwight Howard's career up to this point of his career.


It was very apparent that Dwight Howard was a valuable asset to a rebuilding franchise that had only won 21 games the year prior when he became the youngest player in NBA history to average 10 rebounds in a season and the first player directly out of high school to start in all 82 games during his rookie campaign.

There was an immeasurable physical modification to Howard when he arrived to training camp for his second season. He added about 20 pounds of muscle to his build. Howard’s progress and performance, meanwhile, soared as well as he became the youngest player ever to record 21 points and 20 rebounds in a game.

After all the hard work in the gym and dedication to transform into a dominant center, results were becoming extremely noticeable. Not only did Howard earn a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team in just his third season in the league, the governing big man also helped the Magic qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

With the help from an essential offseason free agent signee, Rashard Lewis, and with Stan Van Gundy’s implementation of a system that is designed to create many open perimeter shots, Orlando continued to make vast improvements and Howard, as anticipated, remained an indomitable force inside. Aside from pushing the Magic to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Howard evolved into a worldwide sensation when he stole the show at NBA All-Star Weekend during an unforgettable dunk contest.

It was evident early on in 2008-09 that Howard had again made some significant movement toward becoming a top five talent in the NBA. Just 10 games into the season, D12 notched his first career triple-double with 30 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks. After earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, an accomplishment that spoke boisterously about his commitment to protecting the paint, Howard and the Magic embarked on an astonishing journey to the NBA Finals.

After the Magic decided to make some personnel changes, including acquiring eight-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, some early adjustment eventually led to another spectacular season for Howard in 2009-10. Although Orlando failed to return to The Finals, Dwight’s field goal percentage skyrocketed. After shooting 57 percent the year prior, Howard raised that statistic to 61 percent.

There was some reservation about Howard’s development as a more complete offensive player. He had always struggled to score beyond five feet from the rim and his free throw shooting had consistently been dismal. But in 2010-11, Howard made some major strides in this department. He demonstrated his ability to knock down short jumpers and was a bit more reliable at the stripe. Howard, undoubtedly, blossomed and his career-best 23 points per game proved it.

How would you evaluate Dwight Howard's performance throughout the 2010-11 season?
How would you evaluate Dwight Howard's performance throughout the 2010-11 season?
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