Dwight Howard Looking to Make Impact with Wizards

dwight-howard-wizardsThe Washington Wizards have signed 8-time All-Star center Dwight Howard. The Wizards were in need of a quality starting center after trading Marcin Gortat.

Howard has rubbed certain teammates/coaches the wrong way during stints in Orlando, LA, Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. But Washington point guard John Wall actually reached out to Howard to get him on the team.

The 3-time Defensive Player of the Year brings good rim protection to a team that doesn’t have any shot-blocking presence. Howard should also lead the squad in rebounds, assuming he stays healthy.

Will Howard Fit In with Wizards?

The biggest issue with Howard isn’t his talent, but rather how his attitude will fit in with the team. He’s typically known as a fun-loving player who doesn’t always give a consistent work ethic.

This combination rubbed Kobe Bryant the wrong way when Howard played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight also demanded the ball more while playing alongside James Harden in Houston. He didn’t had much luck in Atlanta or Charlotte either, given that he only spent one season with each.

john-wallThere’s no problem with Howard’s production, though, since he has continually put up numbers throughout his career. Now 32 years old, Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks for the Hornets last season. He’s also been durable since injuring his back in Houston, averaging 75 games over the past three years.

Washington could use an upgrade at starting center over Gortat and Ian Mahinmi. The last time that the Wizards had really good big men running the paint was when Antwan Jamison and Brendan Haywood were on the roster almost a decade ago.

The Wizards ranked 21st in the NBA in rebounding and 22nd in blocked shots. Gortat was the leading rebounder at 7.6 per game, while Wall led the team in blocks as a point guard. Howard will immediately provide a positive impact in both categories.

Howard should Benefit from Playing with Wall

One of Howard’s biggest problems on previous teams he’s played for has been complaining about not getting the ball. This shouldn’t be a problem with Washington, though, thanks to Wall and his passing talents. The All-Star point guard has averaged 9.2 ssists per game in his career, including 9.6 last season.

Additionally, Dwight has always played his best when he’s flanked by three-point shooters. The Wizards have several players who can shoot the three, including Otto Porter Jr., who ranked fourth in the league last year with 44.1% shooting.

Wall, Bradley Beal, and Austin Rivers all shot over 37% from beyond the arc. Markieff Morris (36.7%), Jodie Meeks (34.3%), and Kelly Oubre Jr. (34.1%) can also hit three’s when open.

All of these shooters will help the Wizards provide good spacing for their newly acquired big man. In return, Howard will serve as a strong post presence and provide the rim protection that this core Wizards unit has never had.

Wizards Now Have a Higher Ceiling

We discussed the potential downsides to adding Howard. But Washington is willing to take this chance when considering that they haven’t been able to make a breakthrough with their current unit yet.

dwight-howard-rocketsThis team largely underachieved last year after finishing 43-39 and sneaking into the playoffs as the eighth seed. They were quickly ousted by the Toronto Raptors in six games.

If Washington wants to take the next step, they have to take a big chance. And Howard at least has the talent to be worth the possible headaches he brings.

It’s very possible that the Wizards have quietly had the best offseason out of any Eastern Conference team. They added Howard, Rivers, Jeff Green, and drafted Troy Brown Jr. In the first round. One can make a case that their roster features more talent than any other team in the East.

Here’s a look at their projected roster before the season starts:

  • (Starters)
  • PG John Wall
  • SG Bradley Beal
  • SF Otto Porter, Jr.
  • PF Markieff Morris
  • C Dwight Howard
  • (Bench)
  • PG Tomas Satoransky
  • SG Austin Rivers
  • SF Kelly Oubre, Jr.
  • PF Jeff Green
  • C Ian Mahinmi
  • SG Jodie Meeks
  • SF Troy Brown, Jr.
  • PF Jason Smith
  • C Thomas Bryant

Lebron James famously left the East for the West this offseason. That said, any Eastern Conference team could step in and earn a trip to the Finals.

Don’t be shocked if Washington is able to do so on the strength of their new additions and a roster that already had talent before the offseason began.

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