Can Dwight Howard elevate the Hawks?
The Atlanta Hawks have lost some key players from their roster. Former Center for the Hawks Al Horford would leave in the offseason, to go play for the Celtics. Also they would trade Jeff Teague to the Pacers in a three team trade for draft picks. In response to the loss of Horford and Teague, the Hawks would sign a underrated big talent in the offseason former Rockets Center Dwight Howard.
The signing of Dwight Howard in the offseason is a big deal. Howard who was considered at one point to be one of the best centers in the NBA, has not had the run in Houston which was expected. He would face injury and have to compete with his own teammate James Harden for scoring opportunities. During his time last season with the Rockets he played 71 games and stayed healthy for majority of the season. He would average 13.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG, but some feel he could have had a greater impact on the team. Under the Rockets offense last season, Harden was the primary target and everything had revolved around him. Howard would be open at times under the basket, while Harden would still try to score by himself. Howard diminished role, had an impact on him leaving for Atlanta.
In Atlanta, expect Dwight Howard to have a bigger role and elevate his game. The Hawks still have impressive talent in the emerging Point Guard Dennis Schroder who took the position of Jeff Teague, as Teague game began to decline. Schroder averaged 11 PPG and 4.4 APG. The Hawks also have Power Forward Paul Millsap, who may benefit more having Howard on the team then Al Horford. Millsap averaged 17.1 PPG and 9 RPG. The Hawks still have sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr. Howard will have more opportunity in Atlanta and will be more motivated to shut up his critics from the past as well.
Prediction: Expect The Hawks to be in the Playoffs. They are not title contenders, but it is a step forward. Losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague doesn’t hurt the team and they were able to get Dwight Howard who will give Atlanta a spark both on the court and getting fans attention. He is back in his hometown and a motivated Howard is dangerous. He has a chance to remind us how dominate he can be and is going to be coached by Mike Budenholzer, who is a great coach and is very underated. Schroder is expected to improve now that he is the clear Point Guard of this team and Paul Millsap will play even better, if Howard can be dominate to give him more opportunities to score. The Hawks are a work in progress and I do expect more changes to the roster, through trades in the season. They are still missing key pieces to get them to a championship level, but they have the coaching and the talent to get into the Playoffs this season.
Atlanta Hawks: `Sixth Seed in the Eastern Conference