The first time Dwight Howard joined the Lakers, he posed for a Sports Illustrated cover with Steve Nash. It was Howard’s first team in the NBA outside of the Magic, who had drafted him in 2004. The pair was supposed to buoy the latter stages of Kobe Bryant’s career to more NBA Finals glory.
The Howard-Nash combination didn’t work in LA. Howard signed with Houston that offseason, and since then he’s played for the Hawks, Hornets and Wizards. Howard is back with the Lakers in 2020, though, as a bench piece on a team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis that has reached the NBA Finals. The NBA’s active leader in rebounds and blocks has found his niche.
After a few years where it looked like the final stages of Howard’s career would be filled with disappointment, his return to the Lakers has left the potential for a strong ending to his last chapter.
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Dwight Howard thrives as Orlando’s No. 1 pick
Howard entered the NBA out of high school, a 19-year old from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. He was the obvious No. 1 pick for the Magic, a player they hoped could be the next iteration of the youthful Shaquille O’Neal who’d provided the Magic such joy before he bolted for Los Angeles.
The young center was as advertised, and maybe then some. Howard averaged a double-double every year he played for the Magic (and for the first 14 years of his NBA career overall). Most years, there was no doubt who the best center in the NBA was — it was Howard, easily.
Between 2008 and 2013, Howard put together five straight seasons averaging two or more blocks per game. Howard’s swats were emphatic,