Dwight Howard’s homecoming has been executed quite well to this point, with the peak coming when both Howard and Kent Bazemore became emotional during an introductory press conference for the Atlanta Hawks. Now, though, the dust is beginning to settle and the reality that Howard is a member of the organization for the next three seasons (at least in theory) is setting in for everyone involved.
With that in mind, Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote eloquently on the subject of Howard’s arrival in Atlanta, and within the confines of the piece, the former Southwest Atlanta Christian star illuminated an interesting tidbit about the health of his back.
“My back hasn’t been an issue, and I don’t think I’ll ever have an issue out of my back for the rest of my career,” he said without pause
For reference, Howard underwent significant back surgery in April 2012 and since that point, the now 30-year-old center hasn’t been the dominant force (17.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes over the past four seasons) that he was in the early portion (20.3 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes in the four years prior) of his career. In addition to the back issues, Howard has faced knee problems in recent years, and with more than 34,000 minutes of court time (both regular season and playoffs) in the NBA, there is a lot of mileage on his body at this stage.
It is certainly noteworthy that Howard feels this confident about his back, but in the same breath, there is an element of “what else is he going to say” in this particular statement. It should be noted that Howard did participate in 71 games during the 2015-2016 season, but he was limited to only 41 contests in the previous campaign, and age is going to be a concern for a player that famously jumped to the NBA straight from high school.
Dwight Howard might be in perfect physical condition (as stated) and that would be quite helpful in terms of integrating his talents into Atlanta’s system immediately. Until that is proven, though, a large segment of the NBA world will be skeptical that Howard can capture any semblance of his peak in terms of explosion and athleticism.