Atlanta’s prodigal son has returned. Dwight Howard is back home in Atlanta. Dwight has said all the right things during the offseason and will finally don the Hawks uniform in a game next month. But, will this goliath of a man allow Atlanta’s “all for one and one for all” mentality to remain?
The biggest concern in Atlanta is how a post-centric offensive player like Howard can prosper in a system designed to take advantage of defenses by passing and spacing. Mike Budenholzer has effectively replaced a sniper in Al Horford with a battering ram. Now, Bud must weave Howard’s game into the Hawks’ tapestry.
A few people who are not worried about Dwight’s fit in Atlanta are his teammates. On Hawks Media Day, Kyle Korver expressed his confidence saying,
“I think we’re hoping (Dwight) adds to what we do and we’ve done the last two years. He’s definitely a different piece that what we’ve had in the past,” said Korver. “I think it’s exciting to see how we can evolve a little bit. I don’t think we’re trying to scrap our whole way of playing or our offense or anything…I don’t think it’s going to be that different. I think just assumes that we have to just post him up all the time…I’m sure we’ll do that some.”
The most interesting aspect of Korver’s comments is how the preconceived notion of Dwight needing to post up constantly is false. Stopping the ball with post up isolations is the antithesis of the Hawks under Bud. Integrating a few post up actions per game could be the best compromise.
Additionally, Korver spoke to Sekou Smith on Media Day about Dwight’s role in Atlanta not needing to be a savior of the franchise.
"I think as we start training camp and start practicing together we're very hopeful that he's going to add to our team a lot," Korver said. "But by no means does he have to carry that weight on his shoulders alone. He has to continue to do what he does well. And we still have a lot of really talented players that I think, when you put it all together, we still have a pretty special team. Like I said, I think when we get to training camp and play a few preseason games we'll be able to create the vision of what we think our team can be."
With established success, the Hawks present a unique opportunity to Howard where he can prosper being surrounded by talented, unselfish players. As Korver notes, Dwight is going to another, albeit special, cog in the Hawks’ machine.
While Howard figures to mesh into the team concept of the Hawks on the court, he has become the focal point of Atlanta’s marketing campaign. The Hawks Twitter account has already begun to feature him as a centerpiece.
From solo commercials on Fox Sports South to a large social media campaign, the native Atlantan will star as the main attraction to stir up excitement in Hawks fans.
The Hawks are a collective. They thrive on group success and unselfish play. Dwight Howard might fit in quite well to Atlanta’s mentality under Bud’s regime. Surrounded by talents like Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver, the only place Dwight needs to outshine his teammates is at the photoshoot.