Portland Trail Blazers: Dwight Howard could be frontcourt cure

Portland Trail Blazers - Dwight Howard (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers - Dwight Howard (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Dwight Howard seems to have developed an evolved mindset in the twilight of his career. Is he worth a gamble for the Portland Trail Blazers?

Not many players in the NBA are quite as polarizing as the eccentric Dwight Howard. Don’t take it from me though, Howard even stated earlier this week that he’s “Never had a lot friends, and I’ve always been kind of weird.”

Despite his lack of NBA connections and self-imposed isolation, perhaps no locker room in the league could give him as warm a welcome as the Portland Trail Blazers.

With Jusuf Nurkic expected to be out until February recuperating from his devastating leg injury, Portland desperately needs some help down low to fill out the big man rotation behind Hassan Whiteside and Zach Collins.

Many forget how productive Howard can still be when playing to his full potential on the court, and who could blame them? Howard only played nine games last season after being a casualty to waivers. However, as recently as 2018 he was making his presence felt on the court, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game with the Charlotte Hornets.

Granted, he would have a much smaller role on the Blazers. But there will always be intrinsic value in a player that can pull in career averages of 3.5 offensive rebounds and block 2 shots per game, especially as a backup rotation player.

As seen above, Howard has retained his tremendous athleticism to pair with his impressive frame even at 34-years-old. His ball handling and ability to drive to the hoop are uncommon in big men his size. Howard is a lob threat on any given possession that will open up the offense for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum with a more diverse attack on the offensive end.

Furthermore, Howard provides some valuable insurance for the frontcourt rotation in the event Portland decides to deal Whiteside away for a star addition at the forward spot such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love or Blake Griffin.

Howard may have many detractors, but none are concerned with his natural talent. It’s his attitude on the court and coachability that have concerned critics for years, dating back to and before his well-documented beef with NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

He seems to have had a recent change of heart however, seen in his interview with Shams Charania of the Athletic.

"“I don’t have an ego — it’s dead. It had to die for me to be who I am. Sometimes when you want to become who you want to be, you have to die within yourself. Once you learn that you have to give up yourself for the team, that’s when things flourish… I thought I was focused. I was always in the gym, working. But was I really focused? Was I really locked in on what I was doing in life?”"

Despite his immense vault of accolades and awards — including eight All-NBA nominations, eight All-Star selections, three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a multiple time rebound and block champion — the surefire future Hall of Famer has never won an NBA championship.

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That possibility is still not yet entirely removed from the table, provided he finds the right situation to excel in. With their renowned locker room environment and a glaring hole in the rotation that can provide Howard with a meaningful role, the Portland Trail Blazers can offer Howard exactly what he needs.