NBA 75 Series: #56 Dwight Howard by DJ Hamilton


   Ranked #56 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time is one of the most athletic, powerful, bruising bigs in league history, and that is Dwight Howard. Dwight David Howard was born on December 8, 1985 to his mother Sheryl and father Dwight Howard Sr. He was viewed as the miracle child after his mother had seven miscarriages before he was born. Both his parents were former basketball players with his dad playing state level and his mom playing for her college team at Morris Brown College.

Howard would start training at the age of nine and was in awe of Michael Jordan and idolized Kevin Garnett growing up. He would attend Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, a private academy that has one of the best basketball programs in the country and would immediately make an impact on the program by averaging 16.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 6.3 blocks per game, emerging as the team’s prominent player, being able to play center, power forward, and small forward.

In his senior season in 2004, he helped lead the Christian Academy to a 31-2 record and the 2004 state title by putting up a monstrous statline of 25 points, 18 rebounds, 8.1 blocks, and 3.5 assists per game that would help him be named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award, Gatorade National Player of the Year, the Morgan Wootten High School Player of the Year Award, and the McDonald’s National High School Player of the Year.

He would also be named a McDonald’s All-American that year and be named co-MVP alongside another future NBA player in J.R. Smith. Howard was considered the best player in the nation and would go on to forego college to enter his name for the 2004 NBA Draft. He would go on to become the top pick in 2004 by the Orlando Magic.

In his rookie season, Howard would become the youngest player to average a double-double for a season with 12 points and 10 rebounds per game and be named All-Rookie first team. 

Ultimately, Howard is probably the most disrespected superstar in NBA history, which is now more evident after the NBA revealed its full NBA official 75 list and left him off! Howard makes my list as one of the most athletic, freakish big men we have ever seen who was a powerful force in the paint and a dominant defender.  He sadly has been a journeyman since he left the Magic, but when he was on the Magic those eight seasons he was the best big man in the game.

Howard led the 2009 Magic to the NBA Finals past teams like the LeBron-led Cavs and the Celtics that had Hall of Famers Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and a young Rondo on that team. They would eventually lose to the Kobe, Pau Gasol-led Lakers in five games but he clearly established himself as the premier big in the game.

Howard would move on to the Lakers in the offseason of 2012 and hasn’t been the same player since suffering a herniated disk his pack that year. The Laker experiment with him, Nash, and Kobe never worked out, he and Harden didn’t get along, and he’s been to the Wizards, Hawks, Hornets, and Sixers as well. He came back to the Lakers a role player and won a championship in 2020, being an active paint protector and rebounder for that Laker title team.

Howard is a eight time NBA-All Star, eight-time All NBA selection, five-time All-Defensive team member, and won three straight Defensive Player of the Year Awards(2009-11)! He also led the league in rebounding five times and blocks twice. He’s the only player to ever win three straight DPOY awards since the award was first given out in 1982.

Howard said it was “disrespectful” he wasn’t on the NBA 75 greatest players list, but, on my list he gets his rightful justification as one of the greats.