Dwight Howard: 2014-15 Defensive Player of the Year

It’s been a while since Dwight Howard fell from grace by turning on his coach in Orlando just to leave once summer came along. Today, as one of the “cornerstones” of the Houston Rockets, Dwight tries to go back to his defensive prowess as the Rockets hope to trade punches with the rest of the Western Conference.

Coming out of high school, Dwight’s expectations were big. As of now, as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), he’s somewhat lived up to them. Unfortunately, said expectations have not stopped here. After joining the Houston Rockets, and arguably the greatest set of role players in his short career, Dwight comes into the 2014-15 season with the same title-or-bust expectations as last year.

Still, landing his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award might be all that’s on Howard’s head.

Selfish? Let’s try smart.

Dwight’s effort on defense would not only tie him with Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace in DPOYs, it would also propel a defense-less Rockets team into contention territory for the Western Conference and, hopefully, NBA titles.

Dwight Howard Per-Game Career:

2006-07 ★ORL8236.9.603.500.603.5863.58.812.31.917.6
2007-08 ★ORL8237.7.599.000.601.5903.410.814.22.120.7
2008-09 ★ORL7935.7.572.000.573.5944.39.613.82.920.6
2009-10 ★ORL8234.7.612.000.617.5923.59.713.22.818.3
2010-11 ★ORL7837.6.593.000.597.5964.
2011-12 ★ORL5438.3.573.000.579.4913.710.814.52.120.6
2012-13 ★LAL7635.8.578.167.581.4923.
2013-14 ★HOU7133.7.591.286.594.5473.38.912.21.818.3
Provided by Basketball-Reference.comView Original Table
Generated 9/29/2014.

Dwight’s Career DPOYs: 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11


Dwight Howard won the first of three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards during his fifth season in the league. Dikembe Mutombo got his first DPOY during his fourth season. This, by all means, doesn’t mean Howard’s awards have less value, in fact, Howard was half a decade younger than Mutombo when he started his DPOY three-peat.

Despite their age difference, Howard and Mutombo were similar players once they became the defensive powerhouses we’ve come to know. Both players, Dikembe and Dwight, (1) led the league in total rebounds, 1,029 and 1,093 respectively; (2) led the league in blocks, 321 and 231 respectively; (3) top 10 in  defensive rebounds for the season, T-2 and 1 respectively; (4) top-five defensive rebound percentage, 29.5 and 26.7 respectively.

It was only after they were able to emulate their best seasons in the league that they became worthy of any kind of individual recognition. After a series of consecutive seasons with above average numbers, it was their repetition which made the league notice these young men and landed them their first, of many, individual accolade.

1994-95 ★28C8237.83.98.712.53.911.5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/30/2014.
2007-08 ★C8237.73.410.814.22.120.7
2008-09 ★C7935.74.39.613.82.920.6
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/30/2014.

A 7.6 Defensive Win Share helped Howard’s case.


Once the first one came along, the title-defense began and Dwight posted another mirror season in 2009-10. After losing the NBA Finals to the hands of the mighty Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, Dwight’s numbers took an almost invisible dip.

Nevertheless, even after said “dip,” Howard showed up ready to work and led the league in, (1) defensive rebounds, 798; (2) total rebounds, 1082; (3) blocks, 228; (4) personal fouls, 287; (4) field goal percentage; (5) defensive rating, 95.4; (6) Defensive Win Shares, 7.1.


The “Hack-a-Dwight” is born.

Dwight Howard, for the first time in his short pro career, led the league, by a mile, in total free throws with 916. The guy who came in second place, Blake Griffin, shot a grand total of 695. (Note: Not a typo.)

Looking for a DPOY three-peat, Dwight’s numbers still looked pretty consistent. However, the league was realizing defense’s importance and each team upped the ante. Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and Nene Hilario were some of Dwight’s threats at the crown, still, Howard led the league in, (1) defensive rebounds, 789; (2) Defensive Win Shares, 7.7; and (3) defensive rating, 94.2.

Ten years into his young career, Dwight’s numbers are nothing short of amazing. Even if they’re more of a roller-coaster than they should, Howard’s numbers, after posting the second-worst Defensive Win Shares of his career (4.1) and a devastating 101 Defensive Rating Overall (Lance Stephenson had a higher DRtg, 100.8) in 2013-14, have no way to go but up, and with them, the Rockets’ chances at the title.