Dwight Howard’s career is stagnating, and he has only himself to blame

The case of Dwight Howard is not a particularly peculiar one. In fact, it’s not really that peculiar at all.

A young player with mounds of talent, heaps of athletic ability and an upbeat attitude, fans couldn’t help but like him once he ascended onto the national stage. A track record of success followed: He became the youngest Defensive Player of the Year ever and single-handedly dragged a lackluster Orlando team to five playoff appearances.

Dwight Howard had arrived, and he was the future.

Fast forward to 2016 and the landscape is markedly different. He’s stuck with the Houston Rockets for a few more months until his contract expires after they weren’t able to push through a trade.

As my colleague Steven Ruiz writes, the best teams know he’s no longer a franchise player, so instead his future will almost certainly be determined by a below-average team willing to take an expensive risk on him. The league has spoken, and it has placed Dwight in an unenviable of situation.

Some of the reasons aren’t entirely his fault.

Having a vertical leap of nearly 40 inches with a 6′ 11″, 265-pound frame is undoubtedly going to take its toll, and his body has started to show it. Injuries to his back and knees means he’s played just 41 games last season.

But underlying it all is the evidence on the court. Howard dominated in Orlando when Stan Van Gundy built a team specifically around him, and his prolific athleticism helped him compensate for his lack of a post game. Coach into him another dimension while he was still young, the thinking went, and he’d be unstoppable.

But as that plan was unfolding, it became about other things for Dwight. He tried to force through a move to the Nets which never happened, and his subsequent landing at the Lakers was in ill-fit in every way. Still, there was never any serious indication he was willing to sacrifice to make it work.

Like so many AAU basketball products, he was a talented guy who was more intent on being the star. It became about him vs. Kobe. He wanted the ball more. The fans turned on him, and his game grew complacent. Confronted with a obstacle in Los Angeles, Dwight ran away to Houston.

In Texas his signature dunks became predictable and his athleticism could no longer bail him out like it used. His clownish off-court persona, meanwhile, was starting to rub people the wrong way. It’s fine to have fun and joke around, but it needs to be paired with a ferocious determination to succeed. You never got that with Dwight.

Even despite all this, Dwight is an incredible talent who will be remembered as one of the best players of his generation. Still — it could have been so much more. Dwight isn’t the first or last player to go down this path, and as long as he’s touted as the star of wherever he lands next, he won’t probably won’t care either way.

Source: MSN Sports

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