Dwight Howard’s first season with the Lakers hasn’t gotten off to the start that most people were expecting. Even despite a four-game winning streak, the Lakers are still under .500 and are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason seeding. It may only be December, but that’s certainly not where this team expected to be two months into the season.
Howard is clearly struggling to get back to form after dealing with off-season back surgery, and recently admitted that he’s still not where he wants to be in terms of his health.
In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Howard discussed his performance thus far this season, and how limited he remains on the basketball court.
“I’m still in that process,” Howard said in an extensive interview with USA TODAY Sports at the team’s practice facility. “People don’t understand that. They just come out and see me make a couple dunks and blocks and say, ‘Oh, he’s back.’ But it does take a while for all this stuff to heal. This is not something easy, so I understand that. It will come.”
There’s no question Howard hasn’t looked like the Dwight Howard most of us were expecting to see when the Lakers acquired him from the Orlando Magic last summer. He still has trouble at times doing things he’s become accustomed to doing almost subconsciously. But Howard has admitted he’s as frustrated with the process as anyone, but that this is what the doctors told him to expect.
“There’s times when sometimes I really can’t even feel my feet. (The doctors) said that’s going to happen. It takes at least nine months for you to get strength back in your legs and all that stuff. So I’m still in that process.”
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If not for the doctor’s reassurance that that is indeed normal, that’s a fairly terrifying prospect for Howard on the basketball court. An inability to feel your feet while you’re attempting to get rebounds over some of the most impressive athletes on the planet can certainly be a cause for concern. But Howard is staying positive and doing his best to work through the rehabilitation process.
“For the most part of my career, I’ve been in tip top shape where I could play 40 minutes nonstop without getting tired. And now I’m just not there.”
Howard initially wasn’t expecting to even be on the basketball court until January, so the fact that L.A. has him on the floor now at all is still better than the original estimates. There’s no question the first quarter of the season has been a struggle, for both Howard and the Lakers, but as the team begins to gel together as the season progresses, Howard’s health will continue to improve, hopefully resulting in a reappearance of the most dominant big man in the game.