Dwight Howard returns to Atlanta

The Southerner

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By Jack Weatherby

This offseason, the Atlanta Hawks picked up Dwight Howard from the Houston Rockets signing him to a $70.5 million contract over 3 years. At age 30, Howard can still have a big impact for the Hawks.

Howard, the former starting center for the Houston Rockets the past three years, returns to his hometown. Howard attended high school at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and was the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2004.

At his introductory press conference in July, Howard teared up as he spoke about his “new beginning” in Atlanta.

In many aspects, this is a good move by the Hawks. This past offseason, the Hawks changed their team by trading point guard Jeff Teague to resign shooting guard Kent Bazemore and letting free agent center Al Horford leave for Boston. While many are unsettled by their choices this offseason, I believe these moves are the best for the Hawks’ future.
Howard, a 12-year NBA veteran, an eight-time NBA all-star, and three-time defensive player of the year, will make an immediate difference for Atlanta. He averaged 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season. Howard will impact the team’s rebounding, as Atlanta was 24th in rebounds per game last season. He’s led the NBA in rebounds five separate years.

Howard is a defensive  asset as well. He’s led the league in blocked shots three separate years. Atlanta has been lacking a true center, and Howard will be a perfect fit on offense and defense.

Howard will wear the number 8 on his jersey this season. The change is significant.

“Well, I’ve had number 12 my whole life, and I just felt like I needed a change…it’s just so ironic that my birthday is December 8th, and you know, I was supposed to be dead. My mom lost seven kids…and I ended up being the eighth one that lived out of all the ones that passed away,” Howard said in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.

After finishing last season 48-34 and being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs, the Hawks should expect some improvement this season. And with the added power of Howard, Atlanta fans should expect the Hawks to do much better in the playoffs. Howard’s new mentality will help Atlanta immensely.

“I want to do whatever I can to bring a championship home…I know it’s not going to be easy,” Howard added in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I’ve worked extremely hard this summer, every summer. I’m very motivated.”

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