Dwight Howard wants to evolve his playing style and play til he's 40

Dwight Howard is all about change these days. 

The Wizards big man arrived in Washington this offseason, making the nation’s capital his sixth NBA home and fourth over the last two years alone. 

He’s become somewhat of a journeyman, which seems strange given that the usual characteristics and abilities of those kinds of NBA players do not come close to the level that Howard is able to produce on the court. 

Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons ranging from his limited skillset in the modern game to his inability to gel with teammates, the eight-time All Star finds himself at somewhat of a crossroads in his career. 

In the increasingly three-point centric game, Howard is no longer able to rely solely on his size and strength in the post to be an effective and efficient player as he did in his early years that were so dominant in Orlando. 

The enigmatic center hasn’t made an All Star roster since 2014 and long gone are the days when he rattled off three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards between 2009-2011. 

The game has changed dramatically in recent times, and Howard has been left behind by his lack of a perimeter game on both ends of the court. 

But, he’s supposedly fitter than ever, with a desire to play on longer than ever, and knows he has to evolve if he’s to retain relevance as a star in today’s NBA. 

Howard has worked tirelessly in the offseason to trim down his previously 285 pound frame with longevity in mind, and he’s now in better shape than ever. 

Working with Ed Downs, the founder of the Miami-based ProTERF Training, Howard has slimmed down to 265 pounds with a crazy 3.3% body fat, and it’s all with one goal in mind; evolving his game to suit the demands of today’s league and playing on until he’s 40 years old. 

“I got a 285-pound, 12 ½-percent body fat guy,” said Downs, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Not good.”

“People wanted him to get big and strong, which if you didn’t notice, he already is,” Downs said. “With the way that the game is changing, it’s a lot more fast-paced. You can’t have a 285-pound body out there on a 6-11 frame. It just slowed him down.”

It’s a testament to the work he’s put in and he’s clearly been grinding on the practice court too, honing his skills with the idea of becoming more like two of the league’s elite talents. 

“He wants to evolve into Anthony Davis, into Kevin Durant,” Justin Zormelo, who trains Howard said. “but his own version of that.”

That might seem ridiculous given the perimeter scoring prowess of both of those guys, but it’s not just the deep shots that Howard is working on. And, taking aspects from both Davis and Durant could work for him. 

“We added ballhandling, we added shooting. Just a completely different mind-set than he’s used to playing [with],” Zormelo says. “I was able to figure out how to add different skills to Dwight and he adapts pretty quickly.”

Whilst he’ll never be the on their level skill wise, it’s encouraging that Howard recognises the need to adapt and it’ll certainly make him more valuable as his career moves into it’s latter stages. 

“When I came into this league, I was playing against the Shaqs, the Alonzo Mournings, the Jermaine O’Neals and it was more so a physical — I’m going to see who’s the strongest guy in the paint. It’s like an arm wrestling match for the big guys,” the former Magic and Lakers star says. “And nowadays, it’s not the same game. So it’s either evolve, adapt or get left behind.”

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