No one thinks Dwight Howard or any other NBA big man will start having 30-rebound games on a regular basis.
But Paul Silas hopes Howard’s spectacular game Wednesday challenges him to be that much better going forward.
Silas was twice coach of the Charlotte Hornets. He was also one of the most prolific rebounders in NBA history; still 21st in career rebounds with 12,357.
Rather than marveling at Howard’s 32-point, 30-rebound game against the Brooklyn Nets, Silas thought that game should serve as a reminder to Howard he can be even more than he’s been.
“He’s not going to get 30 every game. But if he applies himself like that, the team would do so much better,” said Silas, still a season-ticket holder who lives in the Charlotte area.
“He’s a big guy, but he knows how to jump. When he jumps the right away, he can get all those rebounds,” Silas continued. “Sometimes he’s not jumping, and that’s when that’s not happening.”
Howard has averaged double-figure rebounds each of his 14 NBA seasons. He is the active NBA leader in career rebounds, and 16th overall, with 12,969.
Silas believes rebounding has been slowly devalued in this NBA era, when big men increasingly play along the perimeter. He said Howard constantly blocked out when a shot went up Wednesday; that is no longer the imperative it once was at various levels of basketball.
“He put a body right on somebody, and when he did that, he was unbelievable,” Silas observed. “He’s not put a body (on an opposing rebounder) every time.”
At 6-foot-7, Silas defined an NBA overachiever. He played from 1964 through 1980, and later coached four NBA franchises: The Clippers, the Hornets, the Cavaliers and the Hornets again. His son, Stephen, is the Hornets’ associate head coach.
Silas believes rebounding in general – and offensive rebounding in particular – just isn’t the priority it once was. He wonders if that is an outgrowth of players emphasizing offensive skills.
“There are just not as many guys trying to get offensive rebounds. Maybe that’s about getting back” on defense, Silas surmised.
“When I played, there was a lot more emphasis on rebounding. Coaches would get on you when you didn’t go after offensive boards. Maybe it’s (the propensity of) 3-point shots. I don’t know. But it’s different.”
The Hornets have Howard under contract for another season. Between his size, athleticism and physicality, he can still impact a game.
“He’s a tough player. His body is so big,” Silas concluded. “There are not many as tough as he is. And when he does all that, he’s great.”