Charlotte Hornets have needed a player like Dwight Howard

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 4: Andre Drummond
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 4: Andre Drummond /

The Charlotte Hornets have needed a dominant defensive big man for years now and Dwight Howard looks to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday night the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Detroit Pistons 108-106 in their second preseason game.

The newly added Dwight Howard performed well on the night. He finished five for eight from the field with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and a +/- of four in 23 minutes. He looked to have shaken off the rust from the Hornets loss to the Celtics on Monday night.

These aren’t stats that jump off the page, but it’s already clear Dwight Howard has filled a gaping hole for the Hornets. He has been pulling down rebounds with ease and is a force in the paint defensively.

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The easiest way to see this is by comparing Wednesday’s game with last season’s January 5th game against Detroit. Yes, it’s preseason so you have to take everything with a grain of salt, but it still has some meaning.

In that January game, Boban Marjanovic had 15 points, as well as a career high of 19 rebounds. Oh yeah, let’s not forget, he did all of that in just 22 minutes. So how did a role player have his best professional game ever against the Hornets? Well, the answer is simple, none of their bigs could stop the 7-foot 3-inch giant.

Marjanovic is not a skilled player, but his superior height allowed him to straight bully all of the Hornets bigs. Howard still looks relatively small compared to Marjanovic, but he doesn’t allow himself to be pushed around. In 12 minutes, he pulled down seven rebounds and made his only attempt from the field.

That’s a pretty normal stat line for a role player like Boban, and that’s all the Hornets need. They needed a guy that would keep other bigs from having career games. Dwight won’t be his former self that completely shuts down the other bigs, but all he has to do is hold them to their averages for the team to be successful.

Too many times last year outside of just Marjanovic did this happen.

DeMarcus Cousins had a 35 point 18 rebound game. Andre Drummond had a 26 point 20 rebound game.  Anthony Davis had a 46 point 21 rebound game. In a game against the Clippers, DeAndre Jordan AND Blake Griffin had a huge game.

In those four instances I just mentioned, the Hornets won just one of those games. For a team that was in the playoff race until the last week or so, losing games because guys had their best games of the season against you is not acceptable.

In no way am I aiming to diminish anything from Cody Zeller or Frank Kaminsky’s game. Both of them have proven to be valuable to the team, they just can’t even begin to compete on the defensive end with an elite or even above average big men. Their struggles could even be traced back to Hassan Whiteside’s dominance in the Hornets 2016 Playoff Series against the Miami Heat.

Even if you are skeptical about the overall impact Howard will have with the team, this is something we are all sure of. If this is Howard’s worst defensive year ever, it will be an improvement in stopping big men for the team.

Dwight is still an elite rebounder.  He can still block shots with the best of them. If not as intimidating anymore, he’s a still formidable force down low. Even when Al Jefferson was in Charlotte, they never had a defensive presence like Howard.

RIch Cho knew why the Hornets needed somebody like Dwight Howard. After just two preseason games we all see why he felt that way. In 23 minutes in each game, Howard grabbed double-digits rebounds easily in both. There hasn’t been somebody like this in Charlotte since Emeka Okafor.

Next: Best and worse case scenarios for Charlotte in 2017-18

Playoff success if priority number one in Charlotte and they needed Dwight Howard to help them get that.