The Dwight Howard Celtics rumors should be treated as 100 percent legit as we are at the stage in the Danny Ainge championship team building process where no former NBA All-Star player should be ruled out when it comes to a free agent signing or trade. There was Shaq, PJ Brown, Jermaine O’Neal, Jason Terry, Sam Cassell and even Stephon Marbury in the last great Celtics era. None of those players exactly lit it up during their time as a Celtic, but nearly all had their moments. And only O’Neal proved to be something of a malcontent, too.
When it comes to these type of players in the latter stages of their careers, there’s a general feeling of “why not?”
Dwight Howard certainly comes with more baggage than Logan Airport at 6 a.m., but he would give Brad Stevens plenty of options off the bench. The playoffs are all about matchups and chess moves, and certain games will turn into slug fests. When the shots aren’t falling from deep (i.e. Game 7 against Cleveland), it never hurts to have options down low. And for all his faults, and considering his game is more suited for 1989 than 2019, Howard could be a very productive player for Stevens and the Celtics.
His stats last year were outstanding for Charlotte, as he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. While the Celtics have improved leaps and bounds in the rebounding department (they ranked ninth in rebounding as a team last season), Ainge is always seeking perfection.
Howard would cure any rebounding issues for the Celtics and he would also pose as a matchup nightmare against Golden State. Howard punked the Warriors this past season in Oakland, when he scored a game-high 29 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds as Charlotte toppled the champs, 111-100. Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia proved to be highly ineffective against Howard that night, and there remains a train of thought out there that a traditional beast of a big man could feast on the Warriors’ small ball lineup. (Hey, nothing else has worked so far?)
Early in the season two years ago when the Warriors jumped out to a 15-2 start to the season, Howard’s Hawks were one of the first teams to find success against the Dubs. Atlanta lost, 105-110, at Oracle, but Howard ripped down 16 boards in that one, to go along with 14 points. He also limited Pachulia to four points, held Green to four points, and JaVAle McGee and David West to four points total. The Warriors were forced to make their deep shots (which they typically do). But if Howard was anchoring a better perimeter defensive team like the Celtics, then many of those shots would be contested – and there would be a few more misses. Enough misses to – ya know – win a basketball game.