Howard Motivation Remains a Question - Yahoo! Sports

As Dwight Howard finishes what almost certainly will be his last year in Orlando, it's tough to get inside the head of the NBA's best big man. You can almost understand why he wants to go on to greener pastures—just as Shaquille O'Neal did a very long generation ago—but you wonder what he is thinking when he considers his next home.

The team that appears to be in the lead for Howard is the New Jersey Nets, who will be playing in Brooklyn next year in a brand-new arena. However, if Howard looks at the NBA standings, it's hard to come to a conclusion that the Nets are anything but a sadsack team. The Nets have passed the halfway point of the season with a 10-24 record. They have shown no signs of consistency.

Is there some talent on the roster? Yes there is. Forward Kris Humphries has played better this season than he has at any point in his career and point guard Deron Williams is one of the better players at his position in the league. Williams is averaging 22.2 points per game.

So the idea of playing in a new arena with at least a couple of talented players has some appeal. But not as much as playing for a winning team who would have an opportunity to play for the NBA championship.

That's just where Howard would find himself if he was hot to play for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have one of the three best players in basketball in Derrick Rose and the supporting cast was good enough to get the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals last year. While they lost to the Miami Heat, they were just a few breaks and a few end-of-game shots from winning that series. The Bulls are not as good as the Miami Heat the way they are currently constituted, but if they had a center of Howard's status the tables might be turned.

Howard is putting the kind of numbers on the board that NBA fans have gotten used to seeing from him. Howard is averaging 20.3 points per game and shooting 54.7 percent from the field. That's not as well as he performed last year when he averaged 22.9 ppg and shot 59.3 percent from the floor, but it's good enough that you know he will still be a dominant player for the foreseeable future. His rebounding remains sensational as he is grabbing 15.3 boards per game.

Despite the impressive numbers, you get the feeling that Howard has another gear and could be putting up more impressive totals and achieving a greater legacy on the floor. Perhaps that's unfair because he so often has that smile on his face. The smile that tells you he is having a good time and that life is good when you are Dwight Howard.

If he had a more serious gear, playing for a team on the precipice of a championship might be more important to him.

Perhaps it will be at decision-making time, but it doesn't seem the case at this point.


CBS Sports—Dwight How

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23 Feb, 2012

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