Orlando Magic star center Dwight Howard notched his highest finish ever in the balloting for the Most Valuable Player award, finishing second to eventual winner Derrick Rose when the results were announced by the NBA on Tuesday.
Rose, who doesn’t turn 23 years old until Oct. 4, became the youngest MVP winner in league history by collecting 113 of the 120 first-place votes for the award. His Chicago Bulls won 62 games this season while the point guard averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game.
Dwight, who last month became the first player in NBA history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times in a row, finished second with 643 points and three first-place votes. Dwight also got 57 second-place votes, 31 third-place votes, 16 fourth-place votes and 11 fifth-place votes. His Magic won 52 games in the regular season.
In what was clearly the best individual season of Dwight’s seven-year NBA career, it was also his highest finish in the MVP balloting. Dwight was fourth in 2009-10, fourth in 2008-09 and fifth in 2007-08. Undoubtedly, he will go into next season as a leading candidate to win the league’s most coveted individual award.
Miami’s LeBron James, L.A. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant rounded out the top five behind Rose and Dwight, the two stars of Adidas’ advertising campaign prior to the season starting. “I guess fast don’t lie after all,’’ Dwight said, referring to the Adidas marketing slogan.
Dwight made huge strides this season on the offensive end of the floor, while continuing to be the NBA’s most fearsome defensive player. He was the landslide winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award for a third straight season, making him the league’s only player to do so. He also was the Eastern Conference Player of the Week six times this season, more than any other player in the NBA, including even Rose.
Those who watch Dwight play on a nightly basis contend that he impacts more possessions on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor than any other player, and it’s hard to argue that when evaluating his statistics. Dwight, an all-star for a fifth straight season, finished 11th in the NBA in scoring (23 ppg.), second in rebounding (14.3 rpg.), second in field goal percentage (60 percent), third in blocked shots (2.43 bpg.) and first in double-doubles (58).
He was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and at least 2.0 blocks a game this season. He just missed becoming the ninth player in NBA history to rank among the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage when he rested on the final day of the regular season and dropped to 11th in scoring. Also, Dwight recorded at least 1,000 rebounds and 100 blocks for a sixth straight season, the most among all active players in the NBA and second only to Moses Malone (seven seasons).