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By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?

The numbers only tell so much of the story when it comes to new Wizards center Dwight Howard. Man, it still feels strange to type that.

The reason why statistics are limited in their scope with Howard is because much of the criticism of him by others has been about intangibles. The price the Wizards are paying to acquire him, the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.3 million, defies his numbers. This deal was only made possible because of behavioral issues at his previous stops.

Though some of the gripes about him have involved chasing stats, the numbers remain impressive, especially considering he is 32 years old. There are reasons to think he hasn't slowed down much at all. Other numbers tell a different story. 

Let's break down the numbers to evaluate the complicated case that is Dwight Howard...

**The numbers Howard put up in Charlotte in the 2017-18 season were remarkably close to his career averages. He had a stat-line of 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. His career marks are 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest. His offensive rating was 108, just a few ticks away from his career average of 110. And his defensive rating, though not as good as his 99 career average, was solid at 104. No Wizards player had a defensive rating below 107 last season.

**What makes Howard's numbers in 2017-18 even more impressive is that he accrued them while averaging just 30.4 minutes per game, over four minutes less than his career mark. That allows for some fun extrapulating those stats over per-36 projections. Howard's per-36 numbers in 2017-18 look like this: 19.7 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg. That's quite good.

**Howard ranked highly in the NBA in several categories where the Wizards could use some help. He was third in rebounds per game, fifth in offensive rebounds, fourth in defensive rebounds and fourth in total rebounding percentage. His defensive rebounding percentage was a career-high. He was also third in blocks and 10th in block percentage. The Wizards were 21st in rebounding and 22nd in blocks last season.

**For as much criticism as Howard receives for being a locker room cancer and not conducive to winning, he has won a lot at the NBA level. This past season in Charlotte was the first time since he was 21 years old that he didn't make the playoffs. Two years ago, when Howard faced the Wizards in the postseason, he was one of the best players on the fourth-seeded Atlanta Hawks. Four years ago, he was one of the best players on a Rockets team that made the conference finals.

**Now, some of the advanced stats suggest Howard has fallen off with age. His 6.8 win shares in 2017-18 were nowhere near the 13.6 win shares per season Howard averaged from 2008 through 2011, when he was tearing up the league for the Orlando Magic. Still, Howard would have ranked third on the Wizards behind Otto Porter, Jr. (8.1) and Bradley Beal (6.9). Howard's 3.9 defensive win shares were better than anyone on Washington, as Porter led the team with 3.1.

**Howard is very much the same player he's always been with a key weakness that has to be mentioned anytime his value is analyzed and that is free throw shooting. Howard remains a liablity at the line and Wizards fans will be reminded of that over and over this season. He shot just 57.4 percent on free throws and took 7.2 per game. Get used to opponents sending him to the line on purpose.

**Howard has also become less efficient over the years. His 55.5 field goal percentage was his lowest since the 2005-06 season, when he was just 20 years old. He turns the ball over and doesn't score efficiently and the Wizards will have to live with that.

In summary: Howard is not the player he was in his heyday, but he's not all that far off from his peak powers. The window of his prime as an above average center appears to still be open and, though he has his drawbacks, it's hard to ignore the value he brings in certain aspects of the game like rebounding and blocking shots. The Wizards will just need to understand and overcome his shortcomings.

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Lakers reportedly showing interesting in ex-Wizards centers Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat

Lakers reportedly showing interesting in ex-Wizards centers Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat

With the search on to find some replacement depth following DeMarcus Cousins' ACL injury, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently evaluating all options and available players. In the group of potential matches, there's no shortage of players with D.C. ties.

First, it was center Dwight Howard who appeared on the radar. It was reported on Sunday that the Lakers were preparing to open up discussions with the 33-year old center. Howard, who played for L.A. during the 2012-13 season, only appeared in nine games for the Wizards last season while dealing with injury issues.

But, he's not the only former-Wizard in the discussions. A new report states that while the Lakers are preparing to host a workout for Howard, they will also potentially be giving Marcin Gortat a look, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gortat spent the 2018-19 campaign with the Los Angeles Clippers averaging 5.0 points per game and 5.6 rebounds in 47 games. Prior to that, he spent five seasons in Washington, proving to be a valuable asset at times. The 35-year old averaged at least 10 points and eight rebounds in four of his five years with the Wizards.

It's still relatively unknown who the Lakers will go with when it comes time to add depth, but there seems to be a good chance that a former-Wizard could be joining Lebron and company for the upcoming season. 

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7 stats that define John Wall's history-making career (so far)

7 stats that define John Wall's history-making career (so far)

This week is Wall Week at NBC Sports Washington. We are rolling out content each day centering around the Wizards' five-time All-Star point guard. Today, we take a deep dive into the numbers to illustrate Wall's career in Washington so far...

**Wall's career averages of 19.0 points and 9.2 assists put him in elite company. Only three other players in league history have averaged at least 19 and nine with at least 500 games played; Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas. Only Johnson and Robertson have also averaged at least four rebounds in addition, like Wall has.

**Wall is already well-represented on the Wizards/Bullets franchise's all-time leaderboards. He is first in career assists (5,282) and steals (976), second in free throws (2,456), third in points (10,879) and minutes played (20,545) and fourth in threes made (539). He is already third all-time in VORP (value over replacement player), a cumulative stat similar to WAR (wins above replacement) in baseball. Only Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes accrued more while in Washington.

**Wall has also put up some of the best individual seasons in franchise history. He has the No. 1, 3, 4 and 7 highest assist totals with his best year the 2016-17 season when he dished out 831. 

**Wall's 2016-17 campaign was also the only season in franchise history where a player averaged 20-plus points and 10-plus assists. He has 111 20-point, 10-assist games in his career which is by far the most in franchise history. Second on the list is Rod Strickland with 43. Gilbert Arenas is third with 24.

**Wall has 396 career blocks. Only six guards in NBA history have recorded more. Those six are Dwayne Wade (885), Clyde Drexler (719), Dennis Johnson (675), Jason Kidd (450), Kendall Gill (432) and Latrell Sprewell (399). Only Johnson and Kidd played most of their time at point guard, so Wall is third all-time at his position.

**Wall's 5,282 career assists are fifth among active players. Only Chris Paul (9,181), LeBron James (8,662), Rajon Rondo (6,975) and Russell Westbrook (5,701) have more.

**Unfortunately, injuries have significantly affected Wall's last two seasons. He has played a combined 73 regular season games the past two years. For context, he has played the same amount of games as Gordon Hayward, who appeared in just one game in 2017-18. And DeMarcus Cousins, despite going through a full rehab from a torn Achilles during that time, played in more games (78) than Wall.

NBA.com and Basketball Reference were used in this research

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