The Atlanta Hawks have been competitive with the Washington Wizards through two games of their first-round playoff series, but ultimately, they’re down 2-0. Atlanta lost Game 1, 114-107, on Sunday and lost Game 2, 109-101, on Wednesday.
Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap have been phenomenal for Atlanta, averaging 24.0 and 23.0 points, respectively. Schroder is also averaging 7.5 assists. But the Hawks aren’t getting anything from Dwight Howard, who has scored just 13 points through two games and was limited to 20 minutes in Game 2.
What has happened to the 31-year-old?
“Well, he never developed any offensive skill set,” 15-year NBA veteran and CSN Chicago analyst Kendall Gill said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “His game, when he was young, was just based off of power – and he had a lot of it, and he had a lot of athleticism. But now you see his athleticism has left him.”
Howard was never an elite scorer, but he was typically good for 18-22 points per game, not to mention 12-14 rebounds and two or three blocks. With those numbers, he was an eight-time All-Star, a five-time All-NBA first-team performer, and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
But now? Howard, who averaged 13.5 points this year (his lowest since his rookie season) – not to mention a career-low 1.2 blocks – is a shell of his former self.
“When you get older and you’re still successful in the league, you have to have a certain type of skill level,” Gill said. “He just has no skills. And the power now, he can’t get up like he used to and that’s just a testament to hard work. The really, really great players, they always add something to their game, and Dwight Howard has never added anything to his game offensively in the offseason.”
It doesn’t help that Howard is still dealing with back issues stemming from his days in Los Angeles. It’s been a steady decline for the former No. 1 overall pick, who has gone from averaging 18.3 points to 15.8 points to 13.7 points to 13.5 points in the last four years.
“If you watch him, he is really stiff,” Gill said. “He doesn’t have good mobility at all. I think that’s the problem.”
It’s a problem that Howard and the Hawks must solve before this weekend. Game 3 is Saturday in Atlanta at 5:30 p.m. ET.