Kent Bazemore: Hawks will be Dwight Howard’s team

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
5 Comments

Dwight Howard is coming to Atlanta with big plans and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

He’s already won over at least one of his teammates.

Kent Bazemore, via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:

They brought in Dwight Howard, who is one of the most dominant centers of all-time and poised for a breakout year. He seems super hungry. I’ve chatted with him a few times and he seems like he’s ready to get after it. It’s a situation for him where, unlike in L.A. and unlike in Houston, this is going to be his team. We’ll work off of him. We understand that he’s been to the NBA Finals and played on some great teams. We’re looking for him to be a leader for us, and I think he can do it. Him coming back home and being comfortable here, I think that makes a world of a difference.

What about Paul Millsap? He’s still Atlanta’s best player, and his work ethic is inspiring. He built himself into an all-around star with never-expected skills after being a second-round pick.

But he can also opt out after the season, and the Hawks reportedly sought to trade him this summer.

So, with Al Horford (signed with Celtics) and Jeff Teague (traded to Pacers) out, here comes Howard to fill the leadership void. That, uh, hasn’t always gone well.

Perhaps, returning home will bring out the best in Howard. Maybe, at 30, he’s finally mature enough to truly lead a team.

But this is markedly different from Chicago, where Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo immediately deferred to the incumbent star, Jimmy Butler.

Maybe Millsap is fine with this. Maybe he doesn’t want such a prominent role and is happy to take a backseat.

Or maybe the Hawks are inviting locker-room tension.