Dwight Howard Resuming On-Court Work with Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards Dwight Howard (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Dwight Howard (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Dwight Howard hasn’t played a game since November 18th. That may be changing soon, though, as the 8x all-star returns to on-court work with the Washington Wizards after months of rehab.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Dwight Howard has returned to D.C. to resume on-court work with the Washington Wizards.

Howard was Washington’s biggest free agent signing last summer, and was the hopeful solution to many years of center-inspired frustration. The same frustration that led John Wall to publicly beg for a better big man after last year’s playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors. The same frustration that got Marcin Gortat traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Wizards thought Dwight Howard could fix all of that. While he may not be what he once when leading the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals, he was certainly an upgrade.

Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten to see much of him this season. Howard has only played in nine games as a Wizard. However, he’s had some impressive performances in such limited playing time, including three double-doubles. The team, though, was just 4-5 in Howard’s nine games.

Hopefully Howard’s return can provide a much needed rebounding and defensive boost for the Wizards as they close out the season. Howard’s season average of 9.2 rebounds/game leads the team by over a rebound and a half. And there’s reason to believe he could be even better when he returns. 9.2 rpg is the worst of Howard’s career, and the only time since his rookie season (04-05) that he hasn’t averaged more than 10.0 rebounds. According to Basketball Reference, the Wizards rank 28th in offensive, defensive, and team rebounding. Their defensive rating of 113.4 ranks 27th.

While Howard may have been putting up decent numbers, he hardly had time to acclimate to the team in just nine early-season games. Now, it may be even harder for him to gel with the guys on the court. Since Howard last played, the Wizards have traded Jason Smith, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter, and Markieff Morris. They’ve added Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, Wesley Johnson, Sam Dekker, and Trevor Ariza. And they’ve lost John Wall to injury.

Essentially, Dwight Howard is returning to an entirely new team.

How he’ll factor in to the new-look Wizards is yet to be seen. Howard obviously represents the most complete big man on Washington’s roster. Yet, he won’t quite fit with the small-ball lineups Scott Brooks has been utilizing this season. And he’ll be a match up problem when other teams go small.

Plus, Thomas Bryant has emerged as a promising young player for Washington in Howard’s absence. Likewise, Bobby Portis has made the most of his fresh start in Washington after being traded by the Chicago Bulls. At just 21 and 24 years of age, Bryant and Portis are much younger and more promising answers to Washington’s frontcourt problems. Washington needs to see what they have in those two and decide if they want to keep them beyond this year. That’s i they’re able to afford them.

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Portis will hit free agency this summer and will be looking for a nice pay day. Bryant, who was set to hit free agency this summer, is now eligible for a a $3 million qualifying offer after meeting the NBA’s starter criteria, according to Bobby Marks.  Dwight Howard has a 2019-20 player option worth $5.6 million. All signs point to him picking up that option.