Posted by Shaun Powell
ORLANDO — Let’s start with the obvious. Dwight Howard is the best center in the game, the best defensive player in the game and the top player on a team that might win an NBA championship this season.
He is not, however, more deserving of the MVP award than LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant or even Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant.
They have very little if any flaws. Howard, however, has flaws. He’s a notoriously poor free throw shooter, below 60 percent. His offensive game is fairly limited because he lacks a polished, go-to move. And he often gets into silly foul trouble. Very good player? Yes, absolutely. Best at his position? Not even close, really.
Top 3? Not so close.
We say this because Howard and the Magic organization, specifically coach Stan Van Gundy, have taken exception to the MVP voting, where Howard finished fourth. In other words, where he belonged. You can understand why Van Gundy had a beef; coaches are supposed to support their player, if only to curry favor with the franchise Big Guy. And Howard’s unhappiness is reasonable, because he’s looking for respect and Orlando would be the Memphis Grizzlies without him.
One day, maybe Howard’s time will come. Until then, the smaller yet more skilled swing players are superior mainly because they bring more to the table. No knock on Howard; it’s more a salute to Kobe-Wade-LeBron.
The award that Howard should be gunning for — heck, the award everyone should pursue — is the NBA Finals MVP. Because that means you were the best player in the championship series and your team won. And it’s an award that’s well within Howard’s reach. Provided, of course, LeBron or Kobe don’t out-wrestle him for it.