NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Windmill: Will Dwight Howard have a renaissance in Atlanta?

                                               (Credit: Keith Allison. Click here for source)

     During the 14th-16th centuries, Europe underwent a transformation in which there was a renewal of intellectualism and artistic achievement. The movement was started by some of the most brilliant men to ever walk the face of the earth. When you set foot inside the Sistine Chapel and see the ceiling that Michelangelo painted, it's impossible to not be overwhelmed by feelings of awe and wonder. After so many years of darkness, confusion, and lack of progress, Europe found its groove again and bounced back stronger than ever.

     While Dwight Howard isn't trying to revive an entire continent that has seen better times, he is trying to revive his career and have a renaissance of his own. During his introductory press conference with the Atlanta Hawks, Dwight Howard talked about how good it was for him to be back home and how he needed to go back to his roots. He talked about all the hours he spent playing basketball in the Hawks' arena as he pursued his dream of playing in the NBA and how important his family has been in his development as a basketball player and as a person.

     Dwight Howard is optimistic that coming home to Atlanta and representing his hometown Hawks will help him get back on his feet and return to the player that he was during his prime in Orlando. As a matter of fact, I would say he expects to be an even better player than he was back then. While it is certainly touching and heartwarming that Dwight Howard has this loyalty for Atlanta, the question that I want to address is whether or not Dwight Howard will actually have a renaissance in Atlanta like Europe did in the 14th-16th centuries.  I personally believe that he will and I will explain three reasons why I believe this.

     The first reason I believe Dwight Howard will have a renaissance in Atlanta is that for the first time since his days in Orlando, this Hawks team will be his team. Even though Paul Millsap is still on board, it's pretty obvious that Dwight Howard is the new franchise player of the Atlanta Hawks with Al Horford now in Boston. Dwight Howard will get the chance to be the man of this team without having a guy like Kobe Bryant breathing down his neck.

      Secondly, Dwight Howard is still pretty young. He's turning 31 during the 2016-17 season and plenty of NBA big men have had their best years in their mid-late 30s. Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone come to mind as two guys who played their best basketball during this stretch of their careers. Dwight Howard should feel confident in his ability to have at least four, maybe five really productive seasons in Atlanta.

      Lastly, the pressure is off. When Dwight Howard went to the Lakers, there were expectations of him bringing a title back to Los Angeles like Shaquille O'Neal. When he went to the Rockets, there were expectations of him delivering the city its first championship since Hakeem Olajuwon in the mid 1990s. In Atlanta, Dwight Howard isn't in anybody's shadow and nobody expects him to win a championship or turn the Hawks into serious contenders. This lack of pressure should help him out since I believe he really was hurt by all the expectations that were on his shoulders during his time in Los Angeles and Houston.

        I expect Dwight Howard to have his own renaissance and get back to playing the type of basketball he was playing in Orlando (20 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game). He averaged only 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game last season and I have to believe he's got more gas left in the tank than that. With a fresh start in his home city, I expect Dwight Howard to be rejuvenated and in the end have the best years of his career.

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