By Shaquira Speaks
Dwight Howard played his third game for Atlanta last night, and so far he looks great. Like really great. It was almost to the point where you had to do a double take mid-game and say “Who’s that guy wearing the number 8?”
This could be a good fit for him. In Atlanta, he’s the go-to guy, Mr. No. 2. If the guards can’t get anything going around the perimeter, they can dish it inside to him. Dennis Schroder can drive the lane and hand it off to him for a guaranteed two-point play. They can also go big if they needed to seeing that Tiago Splitter is almost back from a hip injury. The Hawks can use him here.
With his last two teams, he was an insufficient piece of the puzzle. In Los Angeles, he couldn’t seem to mesh with Kobe Bryant very well. In 2014, former Lakers head coach Byron Scott said in an interview with ESPN that Howard wasn’t serious about winning championships and Bryant was, hence the constant tension. In Houston, him and James Harden didn’t seem to get along on the court being that they both wanted to be the hero.
It was always something with him, constantly complaining about the lack of touches he was getting, whining about calls or something else that was minuscule. It became so bad that fans started to seriously dislike him, but before that the players disliked him.
So Howard tries again and moves to his hometown of Atlanta, Ga, hoping for better luck in the South. And he showed up as a completely different player. As one of the only true centers left in the NBA, Howard grabbed 19 rebounds and contributed 11 points to the 114-99 season-opening win over the Washington Wizards.
On this Hawks team, Howard finally has a chance to be the person he’s wanted to be – a supersized role player.
The Hawks have a greater potential with Howard as opposed to Al Horford. Yes, Horford has been the better player in recent seasons as he averaged 15.2 points per game, 1.2 offensive rebounds per game and 5.5 defensive rebounds per game.
However, a healthy Dwight, even at age 30, is a better defender and can absolutely disassemble defenses in the pick-and-roll. Howard has the ability to bring down rebounds and anchor the paint which in turn makes play so much easier for his teammates.
Of course, it’s really early in the season to say that he’s actually going to be a help to this team; like first three games of the season early. But he looked really good.
What if this is the turning point of his career? What if he does get all the touches he wants? This could be a brand new Dwight Howard.
And it took him to come to the Atlanta Hawks to find himself.
Oh how good it is to be home, right?