Stan Van Gundy knows Dwight Howard about as good as anyone. His time coaching the Orlando Magic allowed him the opportunity to see Howard develop into a superstar. It also allowed him to see what Howard's true potential was. Because of that unique perspective, Van Gundy can assess Howard better than most, and he says the Los Angeles Lakers' center has not gotten back to where he was before surgery.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Van Gundy spoke of his relationship with Howard and his assessment of the big man's game. Van Gundy thinks Howard's back is still an issue, and it may be part of what is limiting Howard's game.
"I don't think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past," said Van Gundy. "Now, he's still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me."Howard is averaging 17.6 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game. Both are off from his career numbers (18.4 points per game and 12.9 rebound per game). Howard underwent back surgery back in April and took the entire summer to recover.
The Lakers got back to .500 on Friday with a win against the Portland Trail Blazers, and they will look to get back above .500 tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers, but they have struggled most of the year. The team has dealt with more injuries than most, including Steve Nash's broken leg, Pau Gasol's knees, and Howard's return from back surgery. Now that the team is getting healthier and Howard is adjusting, perhaps the Lakers can make the run they were expected to make before the season began.