This past season, the Philadelphia 76ers had two future Hall of Fame centers on their roster. Their current MVP level big man Joel Embiid appears to be going no way, but backup center Dwight Howard could be a different story.
Howard certainly wasn’t the worst backup that Embiid has had in his career. That honor goes to Greg Monroe. With that being noted, at the age of 35 years old, Howard isn’t getting any younger and his play this past season reflected it.
Howard did bring some positive qualities to this Sixers’ roster that could be valuable to the club again next season. The free agent big man shouldn’t be Embiid’s primary backup anymore, but the 17-year veteran should return as the third string big man.
The Philadelphia 76ers should re-sign back Howard as a third string center
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To be clear, if Howard still wanted quality minutes on a consistent basis, he could go to other teams to find that. In a similar way that Vince Carter did at the end of his career. Howard could be a mentor for rebuilding teams like his former Orland Magic teammate was.
However, if Howard wants to be a backup on a contending team, those days appear to be gone based on this past year. While it’s true he can still dunk, rebound, and shot-block at an above average level, other parts of his game have begun to deteriorate.
This past year he averaged 7.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks, while making 58.7 percent of his field goals. On the surface, he still seems solid, but for the Sixers, having him as the primary backup makes rotations more difficult to maneuver.
He and Ben Simmons can’t play together, the floor spacing with both on the floor is horrendous. During the regular season, the duo had an offensive rating of 101.4 and during the playoffs, it got worse as it became 89.6, per NBA.com.
While there’s a chance Simmons get’s traded, there’s also a chance he stays in Philly as well. On top of that, Howard had a hard time staying out of foul trouble. In just 17.3 minutes per game, he averaged 2.9 fouls. Per 36 minutes that converts to 6.0 fouls per game. That’s not going to cut it moving forward.
On top of that, Howard proved to be a liability to the Sixers during the postseason. He averaged 4.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, and 2.6 blocks in just 12.4 minutes per game. It got to a point where Simmons, the team’s starting point guard became a better option at center than Howard when Embiid was off the court.
All of that being written, Howard can still play in a limited role and can prove to be a positive in the locker room. The Philadelphia 76ers should bring him back again for next season if he’s willing to be the third big man on the depth chart.