Even though Dwight Howard has played well on offense in the last two games for the Orlando Magic, everything starts and ends with his defense. Because the Magic rely so much on Howard’s defense, similarly to how the Cleveland Cavaliers rely so much on LeBron James’ offense, they tend to struggle to win games when he’s dealing with foul troubles or he isn’t making the impact defensively that he normally makes. These instances aren’t the norm but when they happen and Howard is not on the floor, his absence on defense is magnified.
It can’t be understated how much of an intimidating presence Howard is in the paint. During the regular season, opponents shot 57.4 percent at the rim against the Magic — the second-lowest figure in the NBA behind the Chicago Bulls (league average was 61.0 percent). When Howard is in the game, nearly every team in the NBA either struggles to attack the basket or neglects to penetrate in the lane altogether. That’s why it’s hard to quantify how good of a defensive player Howard really is. Sometimes you have to look at the video.