What if he's only a rebounder? What if he's only a shot-blocker? What if there is no offensive component?
What, if, at best, he is Dikembe Mutombo?
Yet Thursday night, during the 99-91 loss that sent the Orlando Magic to a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers in these NBA finals, the same argument could have been made about center Dwight Howard.
The rebounding was outrageous, especially early, with 11 in the first quarter and 14 by halftime, on the way to a staggering 21.
The shot-blocking was defiant, with five by intermission and nine in all, setting a finals record.
And yet, there were only two baskets in the opening two quarters, three by the close of the third and five in all.
Five. As many as point guard Rafer Alston, who was finished for the night in the third quarter. Only one more than sixth man Mickael Pietrus.
"I did a lot of good things tonight," Howard said, which was true.
But more is needed.
The last time a Magic mega-man went to the NBA finals, Shaquille O'Neal exited without a single victory against the Houston Rockets in 1995.
Things eventually turned out just fine for Shaq.
They certainly will for Dwight.
But don't let Howard's team-leading scoring average during these playoffs fool you. The offense is raw. There is no drop step. The hook is almost always the same.
The Howard dunk that drew the Magic within 79-78 late in the fourth quarter purely was the product of a Jameer Nelson assault on the paint.
The three-point-play dunk that put the Magic up 81-79 was nothing more than running the center lane in transition.
But when Orlando could have won it with 4.6 seconds to play in regulation, there nary was a peek into the paint at Howard, even with Kobe Bryant yielding 5 inches defensively in that matchup. It's as if the Magic knew.
And as if Howard knew.
"I'm going to have nights where I'm not going to have a lot of touches," he said, refusing to return to his complaints of the Celtics series. "I'm not frustrated. There's going to be times, just like everything, when I miss my teammates, they miss me. It doesn’t matter."
And in overtime? A wild, spinning miss early and later a lack of any finesse with another miss against a triple-team. Two shots for the franchise player in overtime.
Nothing was as costly as the two missed free throws with 11.1 seconds left to play in regulation and the Magic up 87-84, setting up Derek Fisher's tying 3-point dagger.
"You can't blame it on one play and you can't blame it on one player," Nelson said.
"I just missed 'em," Howard said.
The Magic's best player simply is not complete enough to lead his team back from this 3-1 deficit. The muscles might yet flex again Sunday, in Orlando's final home game of the season. But only the most complete of players has any chance of leading his team back from this type of hole.
Howard, at this stage, certainly is not at that level, not without Zydrunas Ilgauskas to spin past.
"We're not going to stop fighting," he said, with his pluck never in question.
Thursday's performance, of course, comes against the backdrop of the latest convention of the Angry Big Men Association.
Shaq has been belittling Howard from the start, although that mostly is about insecurity and jealousy.
Lakers consultant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offered his thoughts on Howard during the mid-week break in this series, stressing that the Magic center could be more complete by moving past pure power.
Then there was Alonzo Mourning on Wednesday afternoon, seemingly questioning everything about Stan Van Gundy's coaching approach, bitterness still lingering from a perceived slight from Van Gundy during the Heat's run to the 2005 Eastern Conference finals.
But perhaps there is merit to Mourning's arguments. What if Van Gundy ever screened for Howard in the lane with a smaller teammate, creating a mismatch that Howard could seize with his superior quickness?
Y! Sports: For Roy Hibbert, a sense of ownership means knowing he should have fought to get in the game with two seconds remaining in overtime, when his absence allowed LeBron James to hit the winning lay-up.
PBT: After it looked like Paul George's heroics would sink the Heat in Game 1, LeBron James stunned Indiana with a layup as time expired to lift Miami in OT.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
LeBron: 'I just made a layup'
LeBron James hit the game-winning shot as time expired in overtime to beat the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but he says, "I just made a layup."
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