Dwight Howard’s defensive statistics have seemed to stay relatively the same over the course of the past two or three seasons, the biggest difference being that he has not managed to win the award he once dominated (Defensive Player of the Year) since 2011. Howard used to live on the corner of “likeable superstar” and Defensive Player of the Year, and now he’s simply vanished in the race for either titles.
Tyson Chandler won the award last season, and now Marc Gasol took top honors for defensive stud this season. Howard, who used to be a shoe-in, not only failed to make a comeback this season and re-claim his stature as the league’s top defender, but he didn’t even manage to make things respectable. Howard finished 14th in votes for defensive player of the year, and finished behind a plethora of names, including LeBron James (2nd place) and Serge Ibaka (3rd place).
Via Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers:
“It’s just funny,”Howard said. “That’s okay. We got next year and I got a long time. This year’s funny.”
Howard won the award in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but seemed sluggish to start this season due to a torn labrum and recovery from back surgery that he underwent over the summer. Howard has also taken a hit in the popularity department, which say what you’d like, does matter when votes are cast.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t vote,”Howard said.“I don’t know what to do about it. But it’s okay.”
Howard went on to speak about who he felt deserved the title. Howard feels Serge Ibaka deserved to win Defensive Player of the Year this season and last, and I tend to agree. Ibaka’s work may sort of be undermined by his supporting cast.
“Serge Ibaka with all the stuff he did this year, he should’ve been the guy to win it this year and last year,”said Howard.“With the stuff he’s done on the defensive end. I thought he was the clear cut winner. But people saw it otherwise.”
“He led the league in blocks. That’s what defense is all about,”Howard said of Ibaka.“He led the team and was number one in blocks this year. You can’t play defense without having any shot blockers. He was the No. 1 shot blocker the last two years. That’s great defense right there.”
Despite what Dwight believes, the votes have been cast and Marc Gasol hoists the trophy this season. Howard needs to look to be 100% healthy next season, and have a comeback year, heading towards reclaiming his spot at the top of the defensive ranks. Howard’s biggest issue was the Lakers overall team defensive struggles. Dwight still managed 12.4 (1st) rebounds per game, 2.4 (5th) blocks and 1.1 (5th among power forwards and centers) steals this season, which are very respectable numbers.