The Atlanta Hawks are one of the hardest teams to predict this season. Gone is the steady Jeff Teague and in is the talented but erratic Dennis Schroder. Bigger yet, out is Al Horford at center and in is Dwight Howard.
Howard is at the heart of the Hawks’ unpredictability (along with the offensive changes they need to make for him). This is a guy that wanted the ball in the post but is far less of a threat there than five years ago. Will he play pick-and-roll with Schroder and accept that role? Will he defend and rebound like a beast? Is he ready to find his game again?
Howard told Tim McMahon of ESPN he has made changes around him as he moved to Atlanta this season, and he hopes it will translate to the court.
“Just things off the court, a lot of the stuff that was happening around me, just personal things. I tried to change that up and just really start over, get a clean slate. No offense to the people that I had around me, but I just wanted to start over, start fresh. Like I said, it’s a new beginning, so I wanted everything to be fresh. I didn’t want to bring any old baggage or anything from my past to this organization. They believe in me, this city believes in me, so I just wanted to make sure that when I’m out there on the court that I’m free, that I can give this city and this team everything that I’ve got.”
But allow me to sound like a Lee’s Summit native: Show me.
Dwight has said all the right things for a while now, yet controversy and disappointing team seasons have followed him on the court. Maybe things are different, maybe Mike Budenhozer has reached him and will get him to play to his strengths. But we all need to see it. The skepticism around Howard is justified.
The Hawks will be as good as Howard is.