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Roundtable Discussion: Dwight Howard and the Lakers

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Is Dwight Howard a franchise player?

Mar 12, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) drives around Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

CC – Yes. In the last question I said Dwight was a top three player in the league when healthy, and that means he is a franchise player. He led the Orlando Magic to the Finals as the best player on the team and won back-to-back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. That sounds like a franchise player to me. Yes, he didn’t play well this past season, but he wasn’t healthy. Even though he was hurt, he still managed to lead the league in rebounds. He’s definitely a franchise player.

JR – Yes. As I said, he wasn’t 100 percent last year and you can only draw so many conclusions from his season. You can draw more conclusions from his time in Orlando, where he was unarguably a franchise player. He’ll be back to 100 person next season and be the player he was on the Orlando Magic.

SG - This is a resounding ‘yes’, at least for me. We are just a season removed from ESPN naming Howard number 3 in their #NBARank rankings of players. Must I remind you of the roster that Howard took to the NBA Finals? The next three best players on that 2008-09 team were Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rafer Alston. Not exactly superstars. The Magic were ranked first in the NBA that season in defense, solely because of Howard. I understand that he hasn’t been close to that player lately, but with a summer to rest and the medical treatment that is available to treat nagging injuries nowadays, I think we’ll see close to the Howard we became accustomed to seeing dominate in Orlando.

BB - I think he can be, but he needs the right guidance and leadership. Shaq did not become the franchise player everyone envision him to be until Phil came into the picture. I think in order for him to be a franchise player, Howard very much needs the right coach. Who that is, is still up for very much debate.

FR – I don’t think Howard is a number one guy like a Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul or Lebron James, but he is definitely someone you can build your franchise around and pair with a number 1 guy.

While Howard’s offensive game is pretty limited and rather ugly, he still can be counted on to score around 20 points per game at a very efficient percentage, pull down around 12 rebounds and get you around 4 blocks per game. In this past season, Howard was still recovering from back surgery and struggled with a shoulder injury all season and still led the league in rebounding and was fifth in blocks. We all saw in the Eastern Conference Playoffs how a great defensive center can impact the game with Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers. Well, Howard is significantly better of a defensive player than Hibbert when he is healthy. You might not like a lot of things about Howard, but he is someone you build your franchise around if you want to win.

CL - How many 3-time defensive player of the years are there in the NBA? Aside from Howard, there are no others. When he is able to put together a full, healthy season, no one in the NBA impacts games on the defensive end as much as Howard. For all the flack he gets for his “rudimentary” post game, he still shoots 57% and scored 18 points per game. Dwight also dragged a mediocre Magic to the NBA Finals, beating the Celtics and Cavaliers along the way. Dwight is 100% a franchise player.

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