The Los Angeles Lakers had four current players on their roster named to the NBA’s list of the top 75 players in its 75 year history, but there is a pretty good argument to be made that they should have had five, with Dwight Howard joining LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis among those recognized by the league last week.
Howard certainly thinks so, weighing in with a simple, one-word response to the snub on Instagram:
Howard has a point. His resume is almost indisputably that of a top-50 player, much less top 75. He ranks eighth all-time in field-goal percentage, 11th in rebounds, 13th in blocks, and did it all despite being “just” 44th all-time in minutes played. Howard finished as a runner-up for MVP in 2011 (and probably should have won over Derrick Rose), part of a five-year run from the 2007-08 season to the 2011-12 campaign in which he also finished fifth, fourth, fourth and seventh in MVP voting.
During that same time period, Howard led an Orlando Magic team team to the NBA Finals with no other stars alongside him, taking them past LeBron’s Cavaliers and The Big Three Celtics that had just won a title the year prior, eventually losing to the 2009 Lakers.
Additionally, Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who led the NBA in rebounds five times and blocks twice, and he additionally made five All-Defensive teams, eight All-NBA teams and eight All-Star games. He can’t even get criticized for not winning a ring, something he did with the 2020 Lakers. There is basically no basketball argument for keeping him off of this list.
I mean, look at some of the names who made it over him. Paul Arizin? Seriously? Why are we pretending that basketball players have not gotten better over the course of the last near-century of the NBA?
Howard has yet to speak to the media about the snub, but his current head coach, Frank Vogel, agreed with his assessment.
“He should for sure be on the list,” Vogel said last week. “He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. 11th all-time in rebounds, will be in the top 10 before the season ends. But I don’t pay a lot of minds to these lists. Like there’s going to be so many great players (not on it). Like, Klay Thompson is not on there? Seriously?”
Still, Vogel said he understands that paring down such lists of luminaries isn’t an easy task.
“There’s going to be great players that don’t get in there. If you put those two guys in, then there’s going to be two guys in the top 75 that don’t get in, and those guys deserved it too,” Vogel said. “But it is pretty surreal to have four of those guys on the same team, and it’s exciting and gives us confidence in what we can accomplish this year.”
Still, the Lakers really should have five. Maybe 25 years from now the NBA will get that right.
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