When the time comes, don’t expect a Hall of Fame vote from Bob Ryan for Dwight Howard.
Ryan, the longtime Boston Globe columnist, joined The Triple Threat Wednesday live at the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards ceremony, and gave a spirited “no” when asked about Howard’s Naismith chances.
“It’s not even a discussion,” Ryan said. “Hall of Fame? Oh please.”
If there was a discussion, it would begin with Howard’s three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, five All-NBA first team nods and seven All-Star Games in 10 career seasons. He’s led the league in rebounds six times in his career and never finished lower than fifth. He’s also led the NBA in blocks twice.
Howard, 29, has averaged 18.2 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game in his career, and is this season in the middle of a rebirth on the defensive end and could win another defensive POTY award.
His postseason resume is a bit lacking. Howard has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs three times in his career, the highlight being beating LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the NBA Finals in 2008-09, before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
Fair or not, working against Howard may be how he handled his time with the Orlando Magic, consistently wondering aloud his happiness with the direction of the team and curiously signing a waiver to stay in South Florida for another season and demanding a trade later that year. And that things didn’t get much better once he arrived in Los Angeles as part of the Andrew Bynum trade with the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.
Basketball-Reference gives Howard a 98.9 percent chance of induction, 10th among current players and between Paul Pierce (99.7%) and Steve Nash (98.2%).
But, Ryan says he’s been unimpressed.
“He’s not even one of the 15 best centers of all time. I can name 15 guys I’d rather have. He’s the biggest waste of space, of misplaced priorities I have ever seen. He’s got the body, He’s got the rebounding skill, He’s got the shot blocking skill, and he just does not capital G, get, capital I, it.”
It’d be interesting to see Ryan’s list of 15 centers he’d rather have over Dwight. Kareem. Bill Russell. Wilt. Shaq. Hakeem. David Robinson. Moses. Either way.
Howard can change Ryan’s impression of him, Ryan said.
“Now, if he finally gets it this year, if (Houston Rockets head coach) Kevin (McHale) finally is the one to — and I love Kevin, I have a very strong feeling about Kevin — if he can find the key to unlock this mystery of Dwight Howard, finally,” Ryan said. “But he’s wasted a lot of time in his career, in my opinion. … All the games that he, Yo! Where is he? Is he in the game? Really? No.”
Though a deep run in the postseason this year would help bolster his chances — the Rockets are currently the three-seed in the wide open Western Conference, and the East is its usual self, a mess — Howard’s body has begun to show signs of decline. Howard told USA Today last month that he had “bone rubbing on bone” in his right knee, scary language for an NBA big man.
“This could change, it’s not too late to change. But no, positively not, my god.”
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