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Report: Howard plans to make Wizards debut Friday vs. Thunder

The Washington Wizards’ big offseason addition seems to be closing in on a date to make his debut.

Center Dwight Howard is reportedly targeting Friday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 ET, ESPN) as his first game with Washington, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Howard missed all of training camp, Washington’s entire exhibition schedule and all of the team’s games to date. The Wizards are mired in a 1-6 start, including a listless 107-95 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night. Defense has been an issue for Washington as it ranks 27th in rebounds per game (41.3), 21st in opponent field goal percentage (47 percent), 26th in Defensive Rating (114.1) and 23rd in opponent effective field goal percentage (54 percent).

Veteran Ian Mahinmi has served as the Wizards’ starting center to date, averaging 4.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 16.8 minutes per game. Fellow veteran Jason Smith and youngster Thomas Bryant have also seen minutes at center so far this season.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said before the season began that Howard was “getting close” to being able to play but is not “quite there yet.”

Howard was not absent because of injury even once last season while with the Charlotte Hornets. He played in 81 of 82 games, missing one because of suspension.

Last season, Howard ranked third in the NBA in rebounds per game (12.5), fourth in double-doubles (53), ninth in blocks (1.6) and 11th in field-goal percentage (55.5 percent).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.