For younger NBA fans, Dwight Howard might be remembered for his latter years as a role player, but in his prime, he was certainly a problem.
In May, Howard raised some eyebrows, confidently saying he would take himself over Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic in a conversation with his former teammate Chandler Parsons ahead of the NBA Finals.
Following this, Jokic went on to lead the Nuggets to their first NBA championship, winning Finals MVP honors with absurd averages of 30.2 points, 14 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.4 steals on 58.3 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from the 3-point line, elevating himself as one of the best big men in NBA history.
Nonetheless, Howard doubled down on his claim in an interview with Complex, explaining why his prime years surpass what we’ve seen from Jokic in recent seasons.
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“Obviously, people going to say Jokic can score. He got all those offensive skills,” Howard said. “But at the same time, I was getting 38 and 20, 45-18, 19, 20, and I’m doing all this with twos. No threes. All twos. I’m doing this with lobs. I’m not getting a lot of post-up attempts like Jokić. He’s getting way more opportunities.
“… I don’t want people to think that I’m trying to hate even comparing, but I’m going to take myself. I know how dominant I was and I know what I could do with my skills.”
During his time in Orlando, Howard was a force of nature and often touted as the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal, such was his physical and athletic dominance — a tenure that included three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year trophies.
Howard was a dominant presence on both sides of the floor and earned eight All-Star appearances in his career, five first-team All-NBA selections, four first-team All-Defensive team selections, and led the league in rebounds on five occasions and blocks twice.
Whether it’s being left off the NBA 75th Anniversary team or his best years coming over a decade ago, Howard says there’s a reason people are underestimating just how good he was, but he considers himself among the greats.
“Because I’m getting old,” he said. But I know that in my prime, it’s a wrap. It’s a wrap… I’m Dwight Howard. I know what I’ve done in this league. All-time centers, I’m top 10.”
Comparing Howard and Jokic’s ‘prime’ stats
For this argument, let’s place Howard’s prime years between 2007-08 and 2011-12 between the ages of 22 and 26, where he was unquestionably the best center in the NBA.
Meanwhile, we’ll draw from the past five seasons of Jokic’s career as his ‘prime’. Keep in mind, the Serbian is still just 28 years old and very much still in the ‘prime’ years of his career.
|Stats||Howard (07-12)||Jokic (19-23)|
Dwight Howard and Nikola Jokic accolades
Howard played 18 seasons in the NBA, while Jokic is just coming off his eighth season in the league, so the career comparison isn’t a true reflection, given what Jokic may still yet accomplish in the NBA.
|NBA Finals MVP||0||1|
|Regular Season MVP||0||2|
|All-NBA Selection (First Team)||8 (5)||5 (2)|
|Defensive Player of the Year||3||0|
|All-Defensive First Team||4||0|
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