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If you thought Dwight Howard would go quietly into that good night, then you don’t know Dwight Howard. He’s saying he still has a lot more basketball in him.
Dwight Howard may be a long way from his peak but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down at all. Last season, he was a key reserve for the Los Angeles Lakers, helping them steamroll through the NBA bubble and earning the first championship ring of his career. It was his first year playing primarily in a bench role but he’s leaned into it this year with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Howard is averaging a career-low 17.8 minutes per game but he’s still doing all the dirty work when he’s on the floor — shooting 58.4 percent, hitting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc (?!?) and posting a career-high 15.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. And he’s doing it for the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Finding this post-prime niche is no easy task, many players have his caliber never manage it. But he’s set up for at least a few more years as a valuable rotation big off the bench. And in a recent conversation with reporters, he stated that he’d like to play at least five more years.
In case you don’t have a calculator handy, that would make him 40.
What would it mean for Dwight Howard to play into his 40s?
If Howard really could stretch the twilight of his career over another five seasons it presents several interesting possibilities. He’s already a lock to make the Hall-of-Fame so any additional achievements are less about burnishing his legacy and more about make it fertile ground for fascinating trivia.
Only 21 players in NBA history have played a season in their 40s, but only 11 have done so and played 750 minutes or more, a rough threshold for being a meaningful role player. If Howard were to do so, he’d join a historic list that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parish and Manu Ginobili.
Five more seasons of even partial playing time would also give Howard a chance to move up several NBA all-time leaderboards. He would almost certainly move into the top 50 or even top 40 in games and minutes played, where he currently ranks 63rd and 53rd in NBA history, respectively. He would also likely break into the all-time top 10 list for rebounds and blocks — he’s currently 12th and 13th — with an outside chance at getting into the top-50 in total points. He’d need 1294 points to accomplish that, while getting ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Paul, who are also still active, and not getting passed by any other active players.
Howard can be infuriating at times but he’s always been one of the NBA’s most entertaining players. Keeping him around for a few more years certainly sounds like a lot of fun.