Will Dwight Howard Ever Be the Same Player We Saw in Orlando?

Dwight Howard's play this season has been a huge reason for the lackluster performance by the Los Angeles Lakers, and if history is any kind of proof, it could be a long time before he's back to playing like his old self, if he ever does get back to that point.

Howard spent the offseason recovering from back surgery after a herniated disc was discovered as the source of his pain at the end of last season.

Of course, after a tumultuous summer, Dwight eventually ended up with the Lakers and even got to play in a few preseason games and the season opener. Things couldn't have looked better for Dwight.

He looked a little bit sluggish out of the gate, possibly overly cautious at times.

The thunderous dunks weren't there, he was losing guys on defense and he was visibly unable to trek up and down the court with some of the younger, faster guards. In short, he didn't look right.

The narrative was that he was still recovering, that pain after back surgery isn't something that just goes away; it's something that has to be remedied bit by bit.

We continued to wait, and Dwight continued to look as if there were a few bricks in his back pockets. The above-the-rim game just wasn't there, and it wasn't showing many signs of coming back for any period of time:

Dwight has had one of the largest fall offs I've seen for a relatively young player. A back injury is no joke.

— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) January 20, 2013 Admittedly, there are days when Dwight looks a lot better than he has for the majority of the season, and he's even been able to keep his numbers at a rate similar to the rest of his career.

If you look at just the stat sheet, you can pretty easily chalk his step backward to having to learn a new system and playing with new teammates.

He's scoring 17 points per game, which is a point below his career average and three points below what he averaged a seas...

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