In the East? It's either Cleveland's LeBron James or Howard at the one-third marker.
And we're going with Dwight, at this stage, despite LeBron's trademark statistical supremacy as well as the monster load he has to carry to keep Cleveland up there with the rest of the title contenders, knowing James will undoubtedly be one of the two or three leading MVP contenders at season's end.
You can also bank on plenty of renewed discussion down the road about the holes in Howard's offensive game or the frailties exposed by the Magic's desultory performance against the Celtics on Christmas. This, though, is an opportunity -- with the Cavs not really clicking until this week and LeBron not playing the same breakthrough D we saw last season -- to highlight the stability provided by the game's best big man. Howard has held his team together through plenty of early upheaval and with so many new guys moving into the Magic Kingdom.
Orlando Magic notes: Dwight Howard responds to Kendrick Perkins' criticism that Howard can dish out the physical play but doesn't like opponents being physical with him
Josh Robbins shares this interesting back-and-forth exchange, which took place through the media, between Kendrick Perkins and Howard.
Why were the Boston Celtics able to limit Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard to five points on just seven shot attempts in the Magic's Christmas Day defeat at Amway Arena?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said afterward that his team didn't do "anything special," but Celtics C Kendrick Perkins offered a less delicate answer.
"You've got to play him physical. You watch other teams around the league, they pretty much let him set up shop," Perkins said, according to The Associated Press. "You've just got to go in and be prepared to go to war. You've got to fight him first, hit him first. . . . He likes to be physical, but he doesn't like anyone to be physical with him."
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wishes Urban Meyer nothing but the best
Head coach Stan Van Gundy states how coaching is a grind.
Van Gundy has acknowledged that coaching can exact a toll.
Last Monday, he was asked about Jerry Sloan’s remarkable run as the head coach of the Utah Jazz since the 1988-89 season.
"Twenty-one years of this?" Van Gundy said on Monday. "My God, I’m in my fifth full season of this, and I’ll tell you, it’s a tiring thing. It’s mentally wearing, and for him to be able to do it for as long as he is, I don’t know if that’s great mental toughness or if the guy’s out of his mind. It really is something to be honored.
"The accomplishments that I’ve admired the most . . . are ones that have a measure of longevity to them. I admire Cal Ripken’s streak, and A.C. Green had one in the NBA."
There are rookies who make it big --- and then there are the draft busts.
With the Magic getting ready to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, a team with rookie Brandon Jennings, Brian Schmitz takes a look at rookies who have been booms and busts in the NBA's history.