With the Celtic’s latest KG news the Magic have to be considered favorites to reach the eastern finals: Philly/Chicago/beat up Celtics can’t be considered a bigger challenge then Detroit/Miami/Atlanta, right? Not when the Magic have handed it to the Greens all season.
The media has anointed him ‘most dominant big in the league’. Right? The magic came together as a team and he’s getting all the credit he deserves. Right?
Wrong. I follow the league. Dwight Howard is the center piece of my (first place, rock!) fantasy team. I check his box scores nearly every time he plays. In a recent ESPN MVP writer’s poll he got paltry results… 1 second-place vote, 2 third, 10 fourth, 1 fifth.
I follow daily yet I was not aware of his progress. The capacity of the leap is astounding. I took a look, and a double take, at the numbers. This year is not a campaign for most dominant player in the league. This year is the start of a campaign for most dominant big in history. This includes you, Big Shaqtus.
1. I’m not comparing Dwight to Shaq Daddy today. This is Shaq in his prime vs Dwight before he enters his.
2. I realize rules have changed recently increasing things like scoring. But its also made it harder for bigs to defend and board. Move over league history. Dwight is here and will be most dominant ever.
3. Only having access to stats from 1986 on I know this leaves players out of the mix. Honestly however basketball before this time was a different game. Sorry if it offends you but Wilt and Russel would not be anywhere near the players they were after 1986 on. That’s my opinion I suppose, and I cede that on sheer dominance, Wilt would blow Dwight away on these lists, but I literally don’t have the resources to show that era’s stats or I would. So this is really just about the more modern era of ball. On with it!
Edit: One more disclaimer. Got into a discussion on a forum about this post and a litany of incredibly angry ball fans appeared to be mortally insulted that I could suggest Shaq was anything but the most dominant player ever and Dwight his little bitch. So people should note (or perhaps you know, just read the following definition that should have taken care of this in the first place) that I don’t actually claim Dwight is better then Shaq. Nor do I think he’s better, greater or more acomplished then Shaq. He’s too young to be compared at that level.
I claim he’s more dominant which is a measure of how good you are in relation to your peers and I back it up fairly well. Shaq was great and dominant but played in an era with peer big men who were periodically above him, below him and close to him. So, to the edumacated among us, here’s a place you can get help and I have some great Dr. Seuss books… lets continue.
–verb (used with object)
1. to rule over; govern; control.
2. to tower above; overlook; overshadow: A tall pine dominated the landscape.
Stats too often focus on a single category over a season and miss the forest for the trees. Its how a player combines all cats in a single game that counts. I define center dominance as points, rebounds and blocks. Comparison is not really what the dictionary wants here either. He must dominate the landscape as the mighty pine. So, lets compare Dwight, one player, to the entire league, of 432 of players.
First up, a double double. For bigs it only indicates you are doing your job. Its not dominant. If you block 5 shots in the process however you’re starting to own the paint. How many games is Dwight’s mark?
|Years Pro||Player||Pos||10/10/5 Games|
Not so great Dwight. The entire league has 18 more 10/10/5 games while you only have 14. Never mind that its 3 times number 2 Camby, nearly 5 times Duncan/Biedrins and 7 times everyone else. It takes the next 5 top players in the league to equal your total Dwight. You can’t dominate a girl scout.
Dwight’s Response: 10 points nor 10 boards are anything to get excited about. I’m all man now so get those child stats outta my house.
We’ll oblige the big fella. Lets add 5 boards to that total.
10 points, 15 boards, 5 blocks
Once the numbers reflect raw pwnage inside, Howard more then doubles the entire NBA’s production. Individuals only have 1 such game a piece. Lets keep going, but its not fair to list them anymore. Sorry Timmy… you didn’t make the cut. Just to show whats happening with Dwight Howard vs. the world the numbers have to be increased.
|Years Pro||Player||15/15/5 Games|
|Years Pro||Player||20/20/5 Games|
4 times the whole NBA in 15/15/5 games? INSANE! Did you notice? In the 20/20/5 club of “I am center, hear me roar” Dwight Howard is putting up infinity percent more then the rest of the league. Infinity percent, times two, to be precise.
Which leads us to history. For a BIG the 20/20 personifies the separation of good and great. The marker of a truly dominant player. Dwight is on pace to own the record for most 20/20 games in about 1.5 years. Maybe sooner as he is still developing. The top of the 20/20 list looks like this.
|Years Pro||Player||Pos||20/20 Games|
By the time Howard is done wreaking his brand of havoc he could easily have 60 of these games. Unheard of in the modern era of basketball.
To put it yet another way: only 9 players have topped Dwight Howards 9 20/20 games this season, wait for it, in their entire cumulative careers. And none before they were 23.
As I write this Howard is not yet finished his fifth year of pro ball. He already has more 20/20’s then this bunch in their whole lifetime. Be sure to note the number of years each player took, multiply by ‘star power‘ and consider how in less then 5 years he’s overtaken them.
|Years Pro||Player||Pos||20/20 Games|
Sabonis gets a pass. Had he played in his youth he would have torn the NBA to pieces. He was so good that the NBA would have been an entirely different era with different players winning championships.
|Years Pro||Player||Pos||20/20 Games|
Can I repeat again that he is only 23 years of age??? 50 or 60 20/20 games is actually Dwight’s low mark. At 25 he should be sitting neatly at 40 and first place all time. Should we expect 80? 100? If his body can keep up like TD’s (who had a 20/20 this year at 34) 100 20/20 career games might be his ceiling with 60-80 being his likely result.
Forget scoring. For a center points are the easy work. Focusing on boards alone Dwight is 10’th all time in 20 rebound games. Here’s the list.
What should be noted is that at age 23 Dwight is in 10’th place with 9 more 20 board games then Duncan and 10 more then Ewing. If he continues having 10 20 board games a season (like this one) he’ll pass everyone except Rodman before he’s 25 and again just entering his prime.
That’s historically. Measures of domination are not against history but by outperforming peers. Why can we safely assume that baring injury he’s going to continue pulling down 20’s so frequently? Lets look at the list of active players who have had even 1 20 board game and is under 30. No offense to TD et al, but they’re in the twilight of respective brilliant careers. This is the competition.
There’s not a lot of competition there. Only 16 have even one 20 board game and #2 is 25’th all tim with 5 of them. When you consider that most of them are closer to 30 then 25, much less 23, and most of them have already started to break down, the list is actually shrinking and this league is Howard’s. A few other views to consider.
The 15/15/5 club, active and under 30, is a small club.
Lets talk blocks. (3 times fast!) D12 vs. the league. Starting at 3/game: everyone has a game with a block or two. It goes without saying: Howard is in first place for every row until you factor in the league thing. I factored in fluke games for this one. If a guy has a solitary >5 block game in an entire season that’s a statistical burp; not a peer of Dwight Howard. I included some percentages on who owns what as well.
|x Blocks||Howard||Entire League||Non-Fluke Games||# Of Others||# Of Non-Fluke Others||DH’s % Of Total Games||DH’s % Of All x BLK Games (Non Fluke)||% Of DH Games With x BLKS||% Of 432 Who Can’t||% Of 432 Who Can’t Or Fluke|
I’m not sure what is more astounding considering any position is totally capable of having a few blocks in a game; that 5%/8% of all 3/4 block games or 30% of all 6 or more block games (non-fluke) in a league of 432 players are his.
|# Others||# Non-Fluke Others||DH’s % Of All x-Board Games||DH’s % Of All x-Board Games(Non-Fluke)||% Of DH Games With x BLKS||% of 432 Who Can’t||% of 432 Who Can’t Or Fluke|
Again, whats most impressive? He’s responsible for almost 40% of the non-fluke 20 board games and 46% of the non-fluke 21+ board games or that half the league is not even capable of having one 10 board game while Howard has 63 of them. That’s a 75% chance every night. Maybe its a nearly 60% chance he pulls down 14 boards, every, single, night. There is no player like this today. There are very few players like this in the past. Once Dwight Howard actually reaches his prime there will be no player in history like this.
Last point. Lets consider something other then stats. In the ESPN voting page I linked to one of the writers said “Dwight needs to improve at the offensive end. 20 ppg won’t win MVP.” Being a good offensive player is not always about putting the ball through the hoop and its not always about being the player to have the ball right before another player scores.
Dwight’s presence inside demands a constant double team/team defensive strategy. Opponents collapse on Dwight which gets easy open looks for others. Go inside, the defense collapses, pass back out and swing it to the weak side for a great look. That IS the Magic’s offense. Anyone paying attention when watching realizes that Howard is involved in nearly every single scoring play. Free looks and open lanes for everyone aboud and thats because of him… not Hedo and Lewis.
He’s been so effective he made perennial laughing stock Jameer Nelson an all-star. The fact he scores 20 PPG only indicates his willing attitude to work within the structure of the offense to create the best opportunity to score points instead of getting his. He’s happy playing for 59 wins despite downgrading his point (and losing his bench point) then for 50 and 30 PPG.
Howard is ranked 7’th or 8’th on mock MVP ballots behind players like Billups, Kobe, Pierce and Brandon Roy. I challenge anyone doing so to look at these numbers and honestly tell me he’s not top 3. Dwight is unmistakeably on a historical tear starting this season and ending approximately 5-10 years later when micro fractured knees meet kryptonite edged scalpels. If they hold off till then he’ll also shatter nearly every important stat for a big man in the modern era of basketball. In many cases, doubling the current all time mark. The Magic have the best defense in the league and not because #12 is really entertaining in the dunk contests. Its time for people to take notice. Superman has landed.