The Lakers took a bit of a risk when they traded for Dwight Howard this summer. Dwight was coming off of major back surgery, which he hasn’t fully recovered from yet, and the Lakers do not know for certain if he will re-sign with LA come June.
A lot has been said about Dwight’s performance on the court, as he has been inconsistent with his energy, strength and contribution. However, Mitch Kupchak recently sat down with Sam Amick of USA Today and had the following to say and defend about Dwight:
“I think he should get more credit for the reality of what has taken place,” Kupchak said. “Here’s a guy who didn’t have to come back. Forget whatever he needs (because of) this summer as a free agent, because doctors are going to say that after a year you’re going to be fine. But he came back because after a year he wanted to play and he wanted to win. And then he’s also had the torn labrum (in his right shoulder). I just thought he was getting unfairly criticized.”
Kupchak talked about the similarity and difference between his similar back surgery, which he had twice, and Dwight’s from last year, saying:
“They did (the surgery) different then…but it’s the same thing,” he said. “And the second one I had, I had it in July and came back in like November and I couldn’t make it through the season. I pulled up lame in March. So the second surgery almost took me two years to come back from. It hasn’t even been a year yet (for Howard).”
“A lot of the symptoms that you had are gone, but in this game you have to coil and recoil and you have to hop on your back and your legs. When your back is (hurting) when you’re bending over to brush your teeth – the back is weird, it’s different. So it hasn’t even been a year yet.”
Many, including Mitch Kupchak, assumed that Dwight Howard would not be ready by opening night of the season in late October.
“I was surprised that he went through training camp and didn’t miss a practice,” Kupchak said. “I thought that maybe he would do some things on a side basket, and then he’d get in condition and we would maybe see him in December or January. I was surprised. I’m not sure he came back too early, but I think people expected too much, too soon.”
Dwight is averaging a respectable 16.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. If you take his multiple injuries into account, his current stats are quite good. Dwight’s presence on the court still has a major impact to the team, even if he’s not 100 percent. Since the All-Star break, Dwight has become more consistently active and has increased his conditioning, which is a very good sign for everyone involved.