Former champion big could be the Warriors’ answer to center questions

Golden State Warriors, Dwight Howard. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Golden State Warriors, Dwight Howard. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors have played small and fast in recent years, with the 6’9″ Kevon Looney starting at center and the 6’6″ Draymond Green closing games at the 5. Their attempt at a true big, the seven-foot James Wiseman, ended in ignominious failure as they traded him for second-round picks.

They didn’t view size as a huge need thus far this offseason, either, drafting 6’9″ Trayce Jackson-Davis as their developmental center and adding a power forward in Dario Saric to be the tallest player on the roster at 6’10”. They don’t have true bulk on the roster, which could be an option down the line.

Will the Warriors’ lack of size be an issue?

Steve Kerr only has to look back a week to see the danger of not having size on your roster to use when needed. Team USA tried to play a pair of power forwards at center at the World Cup, and their run-and-gun small-ball look worked against some teams and struggled against those squads with size. Everyone, including Daniel Theis, knocked them around in the paint and kept them off the glass.

Draymond and Looney have proven themselves more capable of taking on larger players than Jaren Jackson Jr. and Paolo Banchero, but the depth behind them is more of a question mark. When the Warriors are taking on some of the largest teams in the league, will they have a counter when those teams are eating at the rim and gobbling up rebounds?

The answer may be found in the player the Warriors sign to their 14th roster spot, likely the last addition they will make to their full roster until late in the season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that one of the many players the Warriors are bringing in is a former champion who knows the Pacific Division quite well:

Dwight Howard’s resume speaks for itself. The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft is an 8-time All-Star and has made 8 All-NBA teams. He is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and has four Top-5 NBA finishes to his name, including a second-place finish in 2011. In 2020 he won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers.

After playing for the Lakers for the third time in 2021-22, Howard spent last season playing for the Taoyuan Leopards of the T1 League in Taiwan. More than just cracking jokes about playing for Team USA, Howard has been keeping himself in game shape. He’s not coming in for a workout simply as a nod to a future Hall of Fame player; The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reports that he has a real chance to make the roster:

Could the Warriors really sign Dwight Howard?

Dwight Howard will turn 38 years old before Christmas, and he is a long way removed from the peak of his powers. Even so, just two seasons ago he was averaging 13.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes for the Lakers; one of the greatest physical specimens in modern basketball history could reasonably still have something to offer.

Signing Howard isn’t committing them to play him major minutes, but he is the kind of veteran at the end of his career who would be willing to play a minor role for a chance at contending for a title. Howard has the awards, he has the career records, and he has made plenty of money in his career; he may just be looking for a chance to live back in the United States and try to add a second championship ring to his trophy case.

There are other bigs available for the Warriors to look into, from Nerlens Noel and Dewayne Dedmon to the intriguing upside of Neemias Queta, recently cut by the Sacramento Kings. Once they get a look at Howard, however, it’s very possible that Mike Dunleavy and company determine that he is the best fit for their win-now roster.

Howard can finish, he can rebound, and he can stand near the rim and bother shots. The Warriors don’t need a center to do much more than that, and from a rocky start to his career, Dwight has seemed to find the path to being a contributing veteran instead of an attention-grabbing celebrity.

dark. Next. 7 players Golden State Warriors might replace Klay Thompson with by the trade deadline

Given the list of big men that have journeyed through the Bay Area for a workout, it seems very possible that the Warriors recognize their need for some size and end up signing a center. Will it be Dwight Howard, joining Chris Paul on this last dance of future Hall of Famers?