Dwight Howard isn’t as brand-new as you think. Though it doesn’t seem like that long ago since he took the stage on NBA Draft night ’04 with those braces shining on his teeth, and while his persona makes him seem younger than he is, Dwight is a veteran at 24 years old and now in his sixth pro season.
In other words, it’s not too early to discuss (or at least make realistic projections for) his place in history.
Over the weekend, Dwight became the second-leading career scorer in the Orlando Magic franchise, passing Tracy McGrady and now sitting at 8,309 points. Who holds the top spot? Not Shaq or Penny Hardaway, but Nick Anderson at 10,650 points. Howard has already obliterated the franchise rebounding record, is extending his already large lead in blocks, and even ranks fifth in steals. It’s safe to say Dwight will be considered the franchise’s most accomplished player of all-time when he’s done — probably even before he’s 28 — but has he already had a better career in Orlando than anyone else?
Orlando is a young franchise. This is only their 21st season of existence, so the list of good to great players to have come through is short. There’s Dwight, Shaq, Penny, T-Mac, Anderson, Scott Skiles, Rashard Lewis, Dennis Scott, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill (kinda) — any other big names have been short-term rentals, like Horace Grant, Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp and Steve Francis.
On top of the stats, Howard has earned an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, four All-Star nods, three All-NBA and two All-Defensive selections, and two Top-10 MVP finishes. He led the League in rebounding twice and blocks once. Howard had made one NBA Finals appearance, losing in five to Kobe‘s Lakers.
Meanwhile, in his four-year run with the Magic, Shaq compiled four All-Star nods, a Rookie of the Year, three All-NBA spots, and four Top-10 MVP finishes, and led the League in scoring once. Shaq also made one Finals appearance, getting swept by Olajuwon‘s Rockets in his third year. Penny played six year in Orlando, headlined by four All-Star appearances, three All-NBA nods, two Top-10 MVP finishes, and that ’95 Finals run with Shaq. T-Mac also played four years in Orlando, with four All-Star nods, an NBA Most Improved Player award, four All-NBA picks, three Top-10 MVP finishes, and he led the League in scoring twice. And, well, you know about the playoffs.
Is Dwight Howard already the greatest Orlando Magic player of all-time?