The Thing Is… Dwight Howard’s Back

This is the first of a weekly feature that I’ll be doing here at Hardwood Paroxysm. Each week, I’ll be writing about something stupid that I’ve noticed around the NBA blogosphere or among fans. These will be ideas or notions that constantly come up on Twitter and seem to be readily accepted by most everybody. Everybody other than me, that is. By nature, I’m just a skeptical person. I question everything and I doubt everything. That’s why I frequently spew off 15 tweets in a row about some sort of lazy assumption that seems to be taken as undeniable truth. This column ought to work as a more organized way to project these thoughts.

One point that I feel needs to be clarified is that the line of thinking that I’m promoting here is doubt – not simple rejection. I don’t mean to say “this idea is false you idiots!!!!!!” but rather: “why do we so readily accept this as true? Shouldn’t this be reconsidered?”

All of that said, I present to you the first edition of:

The Thing Is…

The only logical place to start this series would be in Los Angeles. Virtually everybody has an opinion about the Lakers and virtually everybody with a soul was giddy to see them start the season 0-3. Unfortunately, the Lakers had to get their first win of the year on Sunday night when they absolutely destroyed the Detroit Pistons. It was an impressive display – total domination. From the opening tip off to the final buzzer, the Lakers lead rarely (if ever) went below 15 points. Much of this was thanks to Dwight Howard being guarded by guys like Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe. In this young season, Dwight has put up some nice numbers, at least on the offensive end. It’s just four games, but the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year is dropping a cool 23.3 points on 68.8% (!!) shooting to go along with 9.8 boards and a couple blocks. Those are the superstar numbers on the offensive end that the Lakers were expecting. On the defensive end and on the glass, however, his numbers are down across the board. His rebounding rate is lower than it has ever been at any point in his career and the Lakers currently boast the 27th ranked defense in the league. While Dwight has produced offensively, he hardly looks the part of a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.

OH MA GOD WHAT HATER ITZ FOUR GAMES GIVE IT SOME TIME. HE’S NOT EVEN FULLY HEALTHY YET JUST WAIT HE’LL ONLY GET BETTER OMG. DWIGHT HAS TO ADJUST TO THE GLARE OF LIGHT COMING OFF OUR SEVENTEEN BANNERS HANGING IN STAPLES CENTER HOW MANY BANNERS ARE IN YOUR HOUSE? NONE. HATER.

Easy there, imaginary Lakers fan that I created to get my point across. There are obviously reasons to explain why Dwight hasn’t lived up to his reputation on the defensive end of the floor. I’ll admit right here that it could simply be because this is a 4-game sample and it’s not at all indicative of how he’ll play the rest of the year. That’s 100% possible. That said, I feel As though the general consensus is that Dwight just had back surgery in the offseason and it’s clearly still slowing him down, that his back isn’t fully healed and that saps his explosiveness which brings down his defensive abilities and rebounding rates, but that it’s definitely going to heal over the course of the season and he will resume his spot as an utterly dominant two-way player.

Again, this is totally possible. But why is it accepted as a given that his back is going to heal through the course of the season? How is playing 35 minutes every night and banging in the post the best way to regain full mobility and strength?

When April rolls around and teams are getting ready for their playoff run, which version of Dwight Howard are the Lakers going to get? One who has fully recovered from his back surgery? Or does the wear and tear of a long 82-game season take its toll on a guy who’s on pace to set a career high in usage rate? Do the Lakers have a good enough bench to let Dwight Howard not play 32 minutes when they’re up by 20 points? I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I’m not a doctor – I just play one on the internet. But I think they are worth considering. Does the relative lack of strength in Dwight’s back cause him to get tired more quickly? Will it cause him to overcompensate with other muscles and injure something else? Does Mike Brown really feel the need to play his stars as much as possible every single night? Those are just some things to consider when you see people say “Wow, and Dwight Howard isn’t even fully healthy.”  Because that’s true, but it could also be the healthiest that he’ll be.