Dwight Howard is not Superman. Superman doesn't get pushed out of his phone booth by Kendrick Perkins. He doesn't resort to a running hook shot 10 feet from the basket or rim out a bunny for the umpteenth time and incredulously glare at the referee.
Everything about his national plaudits right now are premature. With constant comparisons to some of the sports all-time great big men, Howard has serious work ahead of him. He's yet to average over 21 points a game for an entire season (when he was 22, Shaq led the league with 29.3 a clip) establish a smooth, effortless move in the low post that also qualifies as unstoppable, or establish himself as the offensive force that's able to throw a team on his back for lengthy stretches during a game.
Dwight Howard is defensively one of the NBA's most intimidating presences, but he's just not there yet with the ball in his hands. Show me a drop step to the baseline. Offer us up a nifty up and under that makes the most disciplined defender look like a riddling induced ferret. I'll even take a consistent baby hook that gives his coaches some confidence.
Yes he's still just 24-years-old and is showing some improvement in offensive areas like free-throw shooting and creating a decent face-up game, but to be the best center in the sport he needs more than that. He's not just behind the hall of fame heavyweights who once ruled the league, but Howard is also lagging in back of a few current colleagues. Brook Lopez, Nene, Andrew Bynum just to name a few (none of whom have ever been selected to an all-star game). They may not score more points, or get as many touches, but those centers are a small group who can score in more ways than two.
If Al Jefferson had Dwight Howard's body, he'd be hands down the most dominating low post player of his generation. Unfortunately the Magic center isn't yet equipped with elite footwork or shimmy shoulders. His Herculean body is frustrating to watch, like it's stuck in neutral unable to gage it's true potential. Imagine Johnny Depp sticking with horror movies after Nightmare on Elm Street yet still getting nominated for every major award despite never exploring the depths of his potential.
The good news for Magic fans is that Dwight Howard won't be stagnant. If he keeps working on his back to the basket game, there's no telling what he could develop down there. The culminating result could be downright scary for opposing players, coaches and fans; when the ball goes down low to Howard in the post and nine times out of 10 he's either going around, over or through his defender for two (or three) points. Not all of his praise is unworthy. Howard has led the league in rebounding since he was 20 years old--five seasons and counting.
He leads the league in double doubles, is a dominant defender and to not foul him when he's down low (Howard has led the league in trips to the free throw line for the past two seasons and is on his way to making it a third) is to basketball strategy what eating two Big Mac snack wraps instead of one sandwich is to dieting.
ESPN columnist Bill Simmons has him listed as the #2 most untradeable player in the league. Over Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, etc. In his explanation, Simmons goes on to say nearly nothing positive about the man, ending with this paragraph.
In Howard's case, nobody in Orlando has to worry about keeping him happy. He's always happy! He's a good soldier. In a roundabout way, he's avoiding the responsibility of carrying an offense every night. This is easier. He gets to run around, jump over guys, ram some dunks home, block some shots, flex his muscles, smile to the crowd and concentrate on his strengths. Of course, he will never, ever, ever get better this way, and if you look closely at his stats these past three years, he is what he is: 18-19 points, 13-14 rebounds, 3 blocks, 60 percent shooting. Alpha dog pedigree, sidekick mindset. Too bad.
The point here is that until he gets to that dominating level, we should refrain from the false titles. Before comparing his play to that of an unrelenting twister ravaging a stretch of Kansas farmland, wait for him to reach his ultimate, unbeatable plateau. Give it a few years, maybe a championship or two. Find the wreckage, show me the destruction. Until then Dwight Howard is simply an overtly obvious Clark Kent.