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NBA / Oct 28, 2010 / 6:00 pm

Dwight Howard begins his MVP campaign tonight

Dwight covers Dime #60

Dime’s NBA season predictions were announced earlier this week, but due to some technical difficulties, my voice was not heard. As we were tallying up the predictions of editorial staff, mine were lost in somebody’s Spam inbox. My forecasts weren’t enough to swing the majority in any category, but would have made a notable change to one:

While the rest of the Dime unanimously picked Kevin Durant to win the league’s MVP — as inevitable as seeing rats in a New York City subway station — I beg to differ. This is the year Dwight Howard gets the award.

Dwight is the most dominant big man in the League. There is no denying that. He scores at a good rate (18.3 ppg, 61% FG last season) and there is no one who dominates the glass (13.2 rpg) or swats more shots (2.8 bpg) than Howard. He has a lock on the Defensive Player of the Year award, as well as the rebounding title for the foreseeable future. And he’s only getting better.

Durant is a great player, don’t get me wrong. All of the love he is receiving going into this year is well-deserved. He does all of the right things on and off the court and is role model type of athlete. However, outside of scoring, Durant’s stat lines are pretty modest. For a 6-foot-10 forward to average 7.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks shows there is still room for improvement for the new golden child. And for a player who dominates the ball so much for the OKC Thunder, KD’s 2.8 assists per game is low. There are still a lot of holes in Durant’s game.

In the meantime, expect D12 to take his game to the next level. Throughout his career he has been criticized for relying on his athletic dominance on offense instead of developing fundamental skills. It has worked pretty well to this point, but the big buzz during the offseason was Dwight’s improvement on his low-post game from his practice sessions with Hakeem Olajuwon. We will get our first real look at the new and improved D12 tonight when the Orlando Magic host the Washington Wizards in their season opener (TNT, 8 p.m. EST).

A large part of Durant’s rise to superstardom has been his team. The fact that Oklahoma City made it to the playoffs last year as a surprise entrant has many pegging them as a dark horse championship contender this year and Durant as the MVP front-runner.

Orlando can pull off a similar surprise, and therefore enhance Dwight’s MVP case. Everybody is picking the Heat and/or Celtics to dominate the East, so if Orlando — which has won more games over the last two years than Boston or Miami and went to the Finals in ’09 — cracks that top two in the conference, they’ll be showered with praise.

And there’s no reason to believe Orlando can’t be that good. Their core has played successfully together for quite some time, and Vince Carter has a year under his belt in the system. Rashard Lewis is a matchup nightmare for power forwards around the League. Jameer Nelson is an All-Star. J.J. Redick has improved each year, as he is mastering his role in the rotation, and the rest of the Magic bench is full of capable veterans who can step in and make noise night in and night out.

With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade needing some time to learn to play together, the Southeast Division is still Dwight’s to win. Durant will get his points, but will he bring other parts of his game to the table? With that in mind, Dwight Howard is set up the most to walk away with the MVP this year.

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  • Diggity Dave

    Versus the Heat, Howard is going to pick up two fouls in the first three minutes. Between LBJ and Wade driving, he’s either going to look like a defensive genius or go guard the water cooler.

  • JEAR18

    exactly

  • WinDelRoj

    Dwight Howard plays against the other team and the refs every game. But yeah Im thinking hes scoring more this year and should probably win MVP

  • Steve Nash

    I picked Howard as the MVP as well… its his time and he will be a force that the league won’t be able to contain

  • Steve Nash

    I see Dwight Howard leading a much more accomplished career than Shaq… This Magic team can knock off Boston, Miami, and LA… so once he adds a ring there is no way he just ends up with one…

    Lets just hope the Magic keep the right players around him!

  • oppa

    D12 is gonna miss at least 20 games this year due to suspensions from exceeding the technical foul total limit

  • uqk

    Rashard Lewis is a nightmare for his own team.
    2nd highest paid in the league, yet of often disappear in playoff

  • QQ

    Well basically my biased ass picked Dwight as the MVP for 3 straight years now LOL, but this is the year I see him finally winning it.

    Heat getting all the hype while we dominate quietly, VC hopefully understanding the system now til the playoffs, no other center in the L to guard Dwight: It’s the perfect time for Dwight to bag the MVP.

    Watch out.

    And yeah, Dwight dominating the Wiz earlier, but damn, it was just unfair. Yi Jinlian and Javale Mgee???? So basically Dwight haven’t played with REAL NBA players yet.

  • Fertsy

    I’m gonna say it…. Dwight is just a more athletic version of Mt Mutombo. Every time I watch him play I think Dikembe, the perfect defensive anchor in the middle but barely an offensive threat unless wide open or fed the ball in the right spot

  • arno

    Well, Durant’s rise to stardom took a big boost with his world champs performance : he saved USA from another failure and delivered big shot after big shot under high pressure.

    DH is very far from being able to do this (actually, in his own team, Nelson, Carter and Lewis compete to take the big shots). His decision not to represent his country means that he can be in a position to show his talent only come may and june. The trouble is that this period is generally Kobe’s and Wade’s time.

    Regular season performances are of no interest, except for stats geeks. The MVP title is just an NBA marketing gimmick (just remember that Barkley and Malone were choosen ahead of Jordan to see how significant those titles are).

    Anyway, Orlando is a monster : just figure out that yesterday, Mike Pietrus and J Will were in the THIRD unit.

  • LMNOP

    Shit, id completely forgotten about Dwight for MVP, but he might just be the most deserving player.
    Its easy to look at the scorers and the big shot takers, but The Magic are a legit 60 win team and thats all because Dwight has the same impact on the Defensive end of the court that LeBron/Kobe/Durant have on the offensive end.
    Also Between Dwight and Durant, i think that if Dwights D and Durants O are a match, then Dwight is a far better scorer than Durant is Defender. Put that with the Magic winning more games and he should 10000% be the 2011 MVP.

    So Dwight Howard for MVP, its on, fuck a media darling Durant, its all about Dwight Howard, yeaaahhh.

  • EN FUEGO

    Dwight’s probably just a go-to (offensive) move away from the MVP.

  • JAY

    “I see Dwight Howard leading a much more accomplished career than Shaq…”

    ^ Ridiculous. Shaq is one of the most accomplished centers to ever play. If Dwight, a player of lesser caliber compared to Shaq’s prime, accomplishes more than Shaq, that’s more of an indication of today’s lack of centers than it is of Dwight being better than Shaq.
    Pit these two together in their primes and Shaq would make Dwight look stupid. Heck, a rookie Shaq would burn a prime-Dwight.

  • Steve Nash

    I disagree… When Shaq came in the League people could not figure out how to guard him… Compared to Wilt because of his strength… Defensively Shaq should have done more… Guess his focus was more on the offensive end…
    Shaq RARELY improved his game… added jump hooks and an outside spin move from when he first started… THAT’S IT!!!

    I see Dwight taking the game seriously, unlike Shaq… AND THAT WILL BE THE DIFFERENCE… Dwight will be the player SHAQ could have been

  • Big T

    Dwight is going to have a better career than Shaq?? I about fell off my fucking chair when I read that comment. Gotta agree with Jay… Shaq in 92 would’ve ate Howard for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bank

  • Steve Nash

    When Steve Nash came into the league and for the first 4 years no one would have thought he would have been better than Kidd, Payton, Hardaway… but he got better…

    Yea Dwight is rough but he will be sooo much better than Shaq… Shaq was always lazy and had bad basketball habits… You can’t argue he never took the game seriously…

    he left Orlando because he wanted 10 rings remember… how many does he have? not 10… and why I bring it up… cause he COULD HAVE HAD 10!!!

    I guess Chauncy Billups was supposed to stay a scrub in your eyes… cause players can’t improve right???

  • JAY

    Dwight simply just doesn’t have the same natural tools as Shaq. His footwork is GARBAGE. His hands are stone compared to Shaq. Shaq was, is, and always will be a better passer than Dwight. Howard doesn’t see the court like Shaq. Yes, Dwight can improve his game but you can’t just add soft hands, quick feet, and court vision through practice. That’s innate… something Shaq was born with and Howard was not.

    and you saying Shaq never took the game seriously is ridiculous. Of course he did at one point. I can argue that Dwight doesn’t take it seriously either. It’s well documented that he personality is too friendly to demand the ball. Shaq was demanding the ball from the get-go. When did you EVER see Shaq laughing and joking with the other team??

    “When Steve Nash came into the league and for the first 4 years no one would have thought he would have been better than Kidd, Payton, Hardaway… but he got better…”
    Is Nash really better than Kidd and Payton?? I don’t think so. Yes, Nash improved and so did Payton and Kidd. and who lead their teams to an NBA Finals. It wasn’t Nash. and which Hardaway are you referring too?? Either one doesn’t suit your argument… Penny, injured. and Tim, was never THE GUY on his teams.

    “Shaq RARELY improved his game… added jump hooks and an outside spin move from when he first started… THAT’S IT!!!”
    Yes, “that’s it”… he started playing just on the left side of the net. Then gained moves on the other side. Then jump hook (both sides of the net), spin move, drop step left (he originally only stepped right)…
    and what exactly has Dwight added since his rookie year?? Other than getting big, he hasn’t added shit. Nothing that’s effective on a consistent basis at least.

    “When Shaq came in the League people could not figure out how to guard him… Compared to Wilt because of his strength…”
    It wasn’t just his size and strength. He was known as the most dominant center ever because of his footwork and quickness in addition to his size.

    “Defensively Shaq should have done more… Guess his focus was more on the offensive end…”
    What else could he have done?? He averaged 13rbs and 3.5 blks his rookie year. Lol. I guess he could have averaging 15rbs and 5blks just to boost your argument that he “could have” done more. Yes, his offensive game was more advanced than on the defensive end but Shaq wasn’t a slouch on defence in his hay-day.

    “I guess Chauncy Billups was supposed to stay a scrub in your eyes… cause players can’t improve right???”
    Where did this Chauncey argument come from?? Of course players can improve. I just don’t see how Dwight will catch up to Shaq when shaq had all the natural tools to be a consistent, dominant, beast on the offensive end.

  • JAY

    My point is, Howard has been in the league for a while now. and he hasn’t really added much to his game. So there’s nothing for me to point at and say, “Howard will eventually be better than Shaq”. Other than “hope”, there’s nothing there.

  • Steve Nash

    damn… truly dissected my post lolz