Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard just authored the finest season of his seven-year NBA career, launching himself into serious contention for the NBA´s Most Valuable Player award.
Dwight´s Magic won at least 50 games for a fourth consecutive season while the game´s best center was named to his fifth consecutive NBA All-Star Game. Dwight showed off the diversity in his game by ranking 11th in the NBA in scoring (22.9), second in rebounding (14.1), second in field goal percentage (59.3), fourth in blocked shots (2.2) and first in double-doubles (66). The scoring average was easily Dwight´s best mark ever in his career, while the rebounding total was his second-best effort ever.
“I think I´ve gotten a little bit better every year, but this has been my best year as far as having more complete games,” Dwight said. “There have been games where I´ve had bad free throw nights or so-so shooting nights, but I feel like I´ve still been more consistent than ever on both ends blocking shots, playing defense, rebounding and just being there for my team.”
And now a historical look at just how impressive Dwight´s accomplishments were this season:
- Dwight is the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1989-90 to average 23 points and 14 rebounds over a season. Charles Barkley (1986-87), Moses Malone (1978-83), Bob McAdoo (1974-75) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1974-76) are the only other players to accomplish that feat since 1974-75.
- Dwight set a new franchise record for consecutive double-doubles – breaking his own previous record – when he had 33 straight games with a double figure points and rebounds from Jan. 21 through April 1. The 10-week stretch with the 33-straight double-doubles was arguably the best run of his career. During that 33-game stretch, Dwight averaged 24.6 points and 15.6 rebounds. He scored 40 points twice and had at least 30 points 10 times. He pulled down 20 rebounds four times and had at least 15 rebounds in 22 of the 33 games.
- Dwight nearly became just the 10th player in NBA history to finish in the Top 10 in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. Had he not played limited minutes in the regular-season finale and dropped to No. 11 in scoring, Dwight would have joined the likes of the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Bob McAdoo, David Robinson, Bob Lanier, Artis Gilmore, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon on that prestigious list.
- No one won more Player of the Week award this season than Dwight’s six honors. By nabbing six Eastern Conference awards this season, he’s now captured the honor 15 times in his illustrious career.
- At 25 years and 83 days old, Dwight became the youngest player in NBA history to amass 7,000 career rebounds on March 1. He passed Wilt Chamberlain, who was 26 years and 128 days old when he passed the 7,000 rebound plateau. On March 13, Dwight (then 25 years and 95 days old) became the fifth-youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career points. And Dwight has now recorded at least 1,000 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in each of the last six seasons. Since blocked shots were officially tracked in 1973-74, only Moses Malone has done it more (seven seasons).
- Dwight recorded a season-high eight blocked shots (including a new franchise-record six in the third quarter on Nov. 3 against Minnesota. That marked the fourth time since the start of the 2008-09 season that he has recorded eight or more blocked shots in a game, including his career-high of 10 blocks on Nov. 12, 2008 at Oklahoma City. No other player in the NBA has had multiple games of eight-or-more blocks during that same span.
- Dwight recorded six 20-point/20-rebound games this season, giving him 32 during his NBA career. He ranks second among all active players in the NBA in 20/20 games behind only Shaquille O’Neal with 34. The next closest player to Howard is Boston’s Kevin Garnett, who has eight. On Jan. 30 vs. Cleveland, Howard tallied 20 points and 20 boards in just three quarters of play. It marks the third time during Howard’s career that he has attained a 20/20 game by the end of the third quarter. No other player has done this even once during the past six NBA seasons. Howard also has 48 career games with 20-or-more rebounds, including eight times this season. Dwight recorded three consecutive games with 20-plus rebounds from Dec. 18-21. It marks just the second time in his career that he has accomplished the feat (Dec. 28-31, 2007). The last player with 20-plus rebounds in four straight games was Ben Wallace, who had five consecutive 20-plus rebound outings, from Mar. 12-20, 2003.
“I´m just happy with some of the stuff that´s going on with my game, but I have to keep doing it for my teammates and myself,” Dwight said. “The work is going to keep paying off for me and my team as long as I keep putting in the time.”