Dwight Howard Almost Retired From The NBA After The 2014-15 Season

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Dwight Howard Almost Retired From The NBA After The 2014-15 Season

 

The once most feared and most dominant big man in the league, now is on his way to start the new season with his 5th team in the last seven years.

The Atlanta Hawks, where Howard played last season, didn’t get more than some role players from the Hornets for a player who is an eight-time All Star, 8-time All NBA Team member, and a 3-time defensive player of the year.

Ever since Dwight Howard left the Orlando Magic, his career took a turn for the worse. Over these past seven years, Howard had to deal with injuries on a regular basis, but also clashed with teammates (Kobe!) and front offices.

His one Lakers season was a total disaster, and after a promising start with the Rockets, that chapter did not work out as planned either. Everyone thought Dwight would finally be happy again, when he signed a deal with his hometown team, the Atlanta Hawks, this past offseason. It didn’t!

Howard himself was the one who struggled with these situations the most. He now told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins that he felt so bad after the 2014-15 season (his second year with the Rockets), that he considered retiring from the NBA.

 

At a low point with the Rockets, after the 2014–15 season, he considered retiring. The jolly giant who supposedly had too much fun on the floor was miserable. “The joy,” Howard says, “was sucked out of it.” But what would retirement accomplish? He had to change his life regardless of his occupation. So he did what his teenage self would have done. He saw a pastor.

Calvin Simmons has ministered to hundreds of professional athletes in the past decade, including Adrian Peterson, so he is familiar with dramatic falls from grace. “Dwight had gone from the darling of the NBA to the black sheep,” Simmons says. “He realized he had done some things wrong and needed to change, but at the beginning he just wanted to share.”

via Lee Jenkins Sports Illustrated

 

The funny thing is, as much as Howard was feared seven years ago, he now is just as underrated. Many people act like he isn’t able to play anymore. ESPN for example just ranked him outside of their Top 100 players countdown for the new season. But when we take a look at his numbers, we’ll see that he still is a great player.

His best years are obviously gone, but he still is a great defensive player who averaged 13.5 PPG / 12.7 REB / 1.2 BLK on 63.3% FG last season, which are very respectable numbers.

In Charlotte, Dwight will team up with Steve Clifford again. Clifford coached Dwight Howard as an assistant for six seasons. He knows him well, and will get the best out him. Clifford’s defensive scheme requires great defensive rebounding and limiting easy shots at the basket – Dwight is still great at both. Atlanta was fourth in defense last year with Howard. Dwight can quarterback Charlotte’s defense. He knows coverages, and can make up for mistakes.

This move helps Charlotte in the short-term and doesn’t hurt them in the long-term. They were able to get rid of two poor players, a bad contract and move up in the second round of the draft. That is about as good as it gets in a trade. Howard gives the Hornets a ‘big name’. More importantly, he gives them physicality, rim protection and toughness. He is no longer an All-Star, but he can be a key player on a winning team.

 

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