Dwight Howard FAQ: Everything you wanted to know about Superman

Was Dwight Howard robbed of an MVP Award? Is he a Hall-of-Famer? How big is his sweet tooth? Our Dwight Howard FAQ has all your answers.

Dwight Howard’s long, slow slide out of his prime has cast his career in a different light. He’s become the (other) guy who forced his way out of Orlando. The (other) guy who couldn’t live up to Kobe Bryant. The guy who disrupted the Rockets’ beautiful machine with his recalcitrant demands for post-ups. The (other) guy who did a weird cameo for the Hornets.

A delightful second-act with the Lakers as an impactful backup this season reignited interest in Howard. But it’s hard to wade through all the twists and turns in his story. You have questions. Luckily, we have answers.

Did Dwight Howard deserve the 2011 MVP Award?

Reasonable people can disagree. This was the year Derrick Rose won, by a fairly large margin, becoming the youngest MVP in league history. Howard finished second, slightly ahead of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Rose averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, on a 55.0 true shooting percentage, for a team that won 62 games and finished with the best record in the league. Howard averaged 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.4 blocks per game, on a 61.6 true shooting percentage, for a team that won 52 games and finished with the eighth-best record in the league.

Best player on the best team is an MVP argument that makes a lot of sense and Rose certainly checked those boxes. However, this was around the time advanced metrics were beginning to work their way into the popular understanding and those measures, which accounted for the difference in the quality of their supporting casts and the harder-to-measure impact of defense, generally favored Howard.

The argument became a flashpoint, one of the first skirmishes in the great war between “Those Who Like Numbers” and “Those Who Like To Watch The Game.” I don’t think Howard finishing second can be defined as an absolute snub but the results could have been reversed and the split between delighted and outraged fans would have been roughly the same. He could have won and it would have been as defensible as Rose winning. That’s something, I guess?

Where does Dwight Howard rank among the greatest centers of all time?

Assuming we honor Tim Duncan’s request and consider him a power forward, then Howard ranks 10th — right behind Patrick Ewing and right ahead of Bill Walton.

Where does Dwight Howard rank among the greatest Dunk Contest participants of all-time?

Definitely below Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. You could make the case that he’s below Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson as well, both of whom won the dunk contest in back-to-back years. But Howard has competed four times and won once. He also has some of the most iconic dunk contest dunks and, what I’d argue, is a single pantheon dunk in terms of sheer athletic power.

The sticker dunk doesn’t get nearly enough credit, mostly because it didn’t translate well in a first viewing. This was obviously true for those watching in person — the judges gave it a 45 and clearly didn’t really understand the sticker element. Even on television with the cameras zooming in on the sticker, it all feels a bit abstract at first. But watch it again. And then again. And then one more time. Look at how high Howard gets … while finishing a one-handed alley-oop. The “grab a quarter off the top of backboard” is a legendary feat that’s been attributed to several different players but this is as close as I’ve actually seen anyone come to it.

Is Dwight Howard a future Hall-of-Famer?


Does Dwight Howard really think fart jokes are funny?

Rumors of Howard’s mythic flatulence have persisted for years. At the first Orlando Magic media day after Howard left for the Lakers, Glen Davis pointed out it was what his teammates would probably miss most about him. He then took the time to expound on Howard’s abilities.

Howard has referenced it interviews

“[Laughing] Stan [Van Gundy] used to get mad because I would have so much gas. It was like I didn’t have gas at home, but I always had it when we had practice and especially when he talked. I used to always let it out.”

And you can even watch/listen to him farting on YouTube:

So, yes, he clearly thinks it’s funny. No word yet on what his gastroenterologist thinks.

Why did Dwight Howard always block the ball out of bounds?

This is a real thing — not necessarily that Howard was constantly blocking the ball out of bounds but that a lot of his blocks were not recovered by his own team. Since he entered the league in 2004, Howard has blocked about 400 more shots than anyone else. However, the percentage of his blocks that were recovered by his team (54.7 percent) ranks 46th among the top-50 in blocks over the same period.

Look at a collection of his most impressive blocks and you’ll see plenty of him spiking the ball into the third row. I’m not really sure what the cause is but at that volume, it’s not a random fluctuation and it’s not insignificant either. If his blocks had been recovered at just the average rate of the rest of this group of premier shot-blocks it would have meant 88 possessions for his team without the opponent getting another bite at the apple. If his blocks had been recovered at the same rate as Andrei Kirilenko (tops among this group) it would have been 175 fewer opportunities for his opponents.

How big is Dwight Howard’s sweet tooth?

Enormous. Baxter Holmes’ legendary feature on the NBA’s obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches included a story about just how much sugar Howard was eating and how it was affecting him on the court:

Howard had been scarfing down about two dozen chocolate bars’ worth of sugar every single day for years, possibly as long as a decade. “You name it, he ate it,” she says. Skittles, Starbursts, Rolos, Snickers, Mars bars, Twizzlers, Almond Joys, Kit Kats and oh, how he loved Reese’s Pieces. He’d eat them before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, and like any junkie, he had stashes all over — in his kitchen, his bedroom, his car, a fix always within reach.

His blood glucose level was reportedly so high that he was dealing with tingling sensations in his fingers and legs. The Lakers’ team nutritionist intervened and helped Howard change his diet, thank goodness.

How good would Dwight Howard have been if he could make free throws?

Across his career, Howard has made 56.5 percent of his free throws, an abysmal number and perennial sore spot in discussions about his game. Obviously, if he’d been more accurate he wouldn’t have had nearly as many attempts but every team he’s played for would surely take the trade-off.

Let’s assume that Howard made 70 percent of his career free throws, a respectable mark but still well below league-average. Let’s also assume that his accuracy made teams less willing to foul him and his free throw attempts declined by about 10 percent. In this, admittedly very rough back-of-the-envelope calculation, he’d still have scored another 1,101 points in his career.

That would be enough to move him from 70th to 52nd on the all-time scoring list, just ahead of Bernard King and just behind John Stockton. In that 2010-11 season when he lost the MVP race to Derrick Rose, it would have taken his scoring average from 22.9 to 24.0. It would have dramatically changed the scope of offensive strategy for every team he played on and could have altered the playoff outcomes for a number of his teams. Dwight Howard was very, very good. This would have made him very, very better.

What is Dwight Howard’s net worth?

Spotrac estimates Howard’s career earnings to be just north of $240 million. During his career, he also had endorsement deals with some of the biggest corporate sponsors around the NBA, including McDonald’s, Adidas, and Chinese shoe brand, Peak. However much is currently in the bank, it was enough for him to buy this purple, Thanos-inspired Rolls Royce last year.


What’s the greatest Dwight Howard meme ever?

Howard has one of those monster smiles, just ear-to-ear, that moves his entire face. It’s the centerpiece of an incredibly expressive face that has generated terabytes of gifs and reaction shots. But the greatest Howard meme ever is his unfortunate Sports Illustrated cover with Steve Nash.

In case you have forgotten, his first run in L.A. turned out to be no fun at all. The image now serves as a memetic template for hubris and overconfidence.