It’s about 4 years ago when Dwight Howard was being considered one, if not the best Center in the league, and one of the top 15 players in the world. He was as close an MVP you can get, getting double-doubles a night, a Defensive Player of the Year. He was so good that he was a speculation trade target for close to a season when he decided he wanted out of Orlando.
Then the Los Angeles Lakers stint happened. Didn’t go too well with Kobe.
He moved to Houston the next year after that, and it has been nothing but injury bugs, attitude concerns and unhappiness, supposedly with the Rockets’ other star James Harden.
Howard went from being a player every team would want, to a guy who fans on any team have become divided, debating if he’s actually worth acquiring. He went from a multiple time All-Star to a player who some people don’t even want to pay max dollars.
And then, he went home. And it’s always good to be home, seems like.
8 games in and Howard, now with the Atlanta Hawks, is having a rejuvenated season. His averages of 15.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game is close to his 17.8/12.7/2.1 career averages, but he’s doing it in an astonishing 28 minutes per game. That’s right, Dwight is back to being Dwight, playing less a full seven minutes less than he would in his entire career.
It’s good to be back home.
Howard was mired with injuries and criticism. His co-existence with James Harden was always in question. He had one final good run with the Rockets during the 2015 Playoffs, a glimmer of the old Dwight, but the situation in Texas seems to just be too much for him to be able to stay.
Atlanta failed to resign Al Horford, and went after Howard in Free Agency, and it has been a good marriage so far. In retrospect, it is actually the perfect move for Dwight Howard and for the Hawks.
A guy who wants nothing but approval, was greeted back home with open arms. A guy who wants to be the guy, goes to a team with an All-Star in Paul Millsap that was willing to step back. A guy who wants the ball, now gets it. There were issues in Houston about James Harden being too ball dominant, something that did not sit well with Howard, affecting the way he’s engaged on the court. The Hawks are different. Dwight’s point guard, Dennis Schroeder, passes the ball to him 43% of the time, running constant pick and rolls. He gets the touches that he wants.
He looks happy, and he’s at home.
In return, Atlanta is getting the a lot, if not the full Dwight Howard that people have seen in the past five years. Atlanta is currently 2nd in Defensive Efficiency, a big part of it is due to Howard, who’s Defensive Rating 8 games in, is the highest in his entire career. His rebounding Per 36 minutes is the among the highest in his NBA stint. He has been a significant piece for the Hawks, while playing 27 minutes, remember.
We’re seeing a resurgence in Atlanta, and Dwight Howard could become Superman once again. It has already started.