The final few weeks of the NBA summer is a time that is reserved for season predictions and player rankings for the upcoming season. SI.com is currently releasing their Top 100 list of NBA players for next season and new Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard landed at No. 34.
Howard dropped 15 spots in this year’s rankings in large part to a declining post game and questions about his desire to be a featured player on the offensive end of the floor.
Clearly he is no longer suited to play for just any team. The right one, however, can still make great use of Howard’s mobility, rim protection, and strengths as a finisher. To be in decline is not to be washed. Howard can still do a lot of good when he’s able to quiet his contrary instincts and work his way into the right positions. His own judgments are implicit in that, for better or worse. Too often Howard tries to orient his offense from the post when that element of his game has suffered the steepest decline. His team can live with that impulse if it can be reasonably controlled.
The Hawks are hoping that they can be the right team for Howard and that they can strike the correct balance so that Howard becomes the legitimate presence inside that the team has lacked for many years.
There are risks that go along with having Howard on the roster but to his credit, he has done his best to quiet those concerns throughout the off season. Whether or not that continues into the regular season will be one of the more intriguing storylines associated with Atlanta this season.