Dwight Howard, born in the Atlanta area, agreed to sign a three-year deal worth $70.5 million with the Hawks in free agency. Howard has been under much scrutiny the past few seasons for not really being a team player and butting heads with teammates, causing turmoil on and off the court. It almost seems unfair that a player of Howard’s caliber has been ridiculed and slandered for so long, even when his play really has not been that poor. The man has been an eight-time All-Star and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, so his resume is Hall of Fame worthy whether most people around the league want to like it or not.
In order for Howard to gain more respect around the league, and even improve his chances at the Hall of Fame, he has to win a title before his career is over.
Howard was quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution saying,
“I want to do whatever I can to bring a championship home,”
Granted, it is not going to be easy for Atlanta, they are lacking some star power beyond Howard and will have to go through the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers in order to do so.
Howard went on to say that it won’t be easy for this team, but it is a challenge he is willing to take.
“I know it’s not going to be easy. I’ve worked extremely hard this summer, every summer. I’m very motivated. I’m really (ticked) off about last season. I’m looking forward to coming back with a different mentality.”
Frankly, it is going to be tough for Howard to bring a title to Atlanta, but it is a different approach for him this year now that he is on the Hawks. Howard’s best days were when he was in the Eastern Conference on the Orlando Magic, so this could be a new type of beginning for Howard. His mentality has to be an attitude where he can’t worry about what is being said or is happening around him because that has affected him in the past. With the Hawks losing Al Horford to free agency, and trading point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers, Howard has the opportunity to be the man again. With Dennis Schroder now probably the starting point guard, Howard will be able to work with him in pick and roll situations. Kent Bazemore has come into his own to be a big contributor for the team as he re-signed with Atlanta this offseason.
Howard has players around him for a successful team. This Hawks team is only two years removed from being first in the Eastern Conference. Granted, they lost three of those All-Stars, but this team is absolutely capable of making noise in the East. Howard, now being on Atlanta, has a fresh start in a place where he feels the most comfortable. He does not have to worry about drama among teammates like he did in Los Angeles with Kobe and Houston with James Harden. He can just go out and play and be that defensive presence we always knew him to be. Even though his production last season was at it’s lowest since his rookie season, Howard has the opportunity to be a leader on a team again.