While his superstar days are long behind him, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has carved out a nice niche for himself as a quick-hitting impact player off the bench. Even as the Lake Show has stumbled and bumbled through the early campaign, Howard continues to thrive in small doses.
In just 13.4 minutes per contest, Howard is averaging 5.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks+steals. He is also making 67.4% of his field-goal attempts and is 5-for-7 from three-point range in the early campaign.
Without his contributions last season, the Sixers may have been unable to hold onto East’s No. 1 seed when Joel Embiid got injured. And Lakers fans know full well how important he was to the team’s title run in the bubble during his previous stay in LA.
As Howard sees it, though, his contributions aren’t being properly recognized for what they are. He believes that there’s a bad rap in play that has been following him around for several years now.
Howard Speaks out on Being Undervalued
Howard spoke with GQ’s Tyler Tynes for a piece that hit the web on November 24 and the feature was chock-full of revelations. Did you know, for example, that Howard once owned upward of 50 snakes? Or that he’s an expert on giraffes? Also — it seems he still has a whole lot of love for Orlando.
Of all the clips Howard provided in the interview, though, this may be the big one — he firmly believes that his detractors and members of the media are responsible for turning him into a villain of sorts. And it may be affecting his money.
“It’s like someone is putting these stories out to lower my value. And because I don’t speak on this stuff, [people] must think it’s true,” he told GQ. “It’s a lose-lose situation when you speak on that. I look at my numbers even from last year: if I was to play 20 to 25 minutes a night, I would’ve averaged over 17 rebounds a game.”
He’s not wrong about his incredible efficiency. Based on his per-minute production in 2020-21, he would have been a double-double guy at 10.1 points and 12.1 rebounds (as well as 1.3 blocks) over just 25 minutes per contest… as a 35-year-old. According to Howard, that’s a level of output that supersedes his paycheck.
“The valuation from this year says I’m getting underpaid by [the Lakers] by 400%,” Howard declared.
As he sees it, the negative publicity — which continues to come in spite of his production — is just the same lie being told in perpetuity.
“People keep saying I’m this way or that way, that this is his reputation, this is what he does. I get it — you’re not gonna be the good person in everyone’s story. For some people, you gonna be the bad guy. But how could I go from the greatest person in Orlando, with the greatest smile and having fun and then it started to transform? I would see articles asking if I smiled too much. Why would you wanna take away somebody’s smile? … I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”
Lost in the Shuffle
Howard also noted that joining up with a super team probably hasn’t done him any favors in terms of getting recognized for what he does. When asked by Tynes whether he felt he had become an afterthought on the whole or if it was tied to his signing with the Lakers, the eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time DPOY had this to say:
Both. I look at when ESPN highlights the Lakers: Obviously, they’re gonna show LeBron and Anthony Davis, or Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. And me and Rajon Rondo are left out, like we haven’t done great things in our career. Like we haven’t been amazing. We’re always left out of certain things. I try not to look too deep into it, but that shit be the case. We’ve done exceptional things in this league and still are. So, while we’re playing we should get some praise for the hard work that we put in. I don’t want nobody to kiss my butt or nothin’ like that. But appreciation should go a long way, especially when people are alive
We put so much emphasis on a ring. [People say] “he don’t have a ring, so you can’t be considered that great.” But the championship is won when you make it to the NBA. It’s the hardest shit in the world to make it.