Home » Blog » Dwight Howard could miss a month with knee injury

Dwight Howard could miss a month with knee injury

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard could miss at least a month with lingering knee problems, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Howard has missed the last four games with the injury to his right knee, and recent tests found fluid build-up in the knee. The Rockets are expecting the big man’s absence to be measured in weeks as opposed to days, but they remain confident that he’ll be back for the stretch run.

With Howard sidelined, Houston lost to the Detroit Pistons, 114-101, on Friday night. However, the Rockets have generally done well this season without Howard, who has missed a total of 16 games this year due to injury. Houston has gone 11-5 with Howard sidelined, a winning percentage of .688. That’s identical to the Rockets’ winning percentage for the entire season.

Because of injury problems the past few seasons, Howard isn’t the dominant force he was with the Orlando Magic. His minutes are down and he’s averaging 16.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, which would be his lowest averages since his first couple years in the league.

However, while his individual numbers are down, he still makes a big impact. The Rockets have survived Howard’s absences because of James Harden and improved defense, but they have been at their best when the center is on the floor. Houston has given up just 97.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the court this season, per NBA.com. That’s compared to a 101.1 defensive rating with him on the bench, which is still a good mark, but a significant difference.

Furthermore, Howard continues to do an excellent job at protecting the rim, even with lower block totals. Opponents take 7.9 shots per game at the rim against Howard, and they have made just 45.1 percent of those shots, per SportVU. That’s one of the best marks among players with a high volume of shots defended at the rim.

Having Josh Smith around and Terrence Jones back from injury will make the Rockets even more well-equipped to handle a prolonged absence for Howard, but it’s clear the team will need him if they want to make a deep postseason run. Howard is the anchor of the defense, and while his post game still isn’t as effective as one would hope, he helps the offense in plenty of other ways.

Houston is currently 33-15, which is tied for the third-best record in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Clippers, although the Rockets are only the No. 5 seed because of tiebreakers and league rules that state that the Northwest Division-leading Portland Trail Blazers must be a top four seed. Still, to have that record despite all of the injuries is mighty impressive.

Houston is just seventh in the West pecking order when it comes to odds of winning the 2015 championship, as they have 22/1 odds to win it all, according to VegasInsider.com. The Rockets may be a risky bet now because of the uncertainty surrounding Howard and the strength of the West, but there is a lot of talent on the team and the payout would be nice, so it could be a decent play.



  • 100%