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The Charlotte Hornets made a gutsy move when they traded for Dwight Howard this offseason. The move was made for basketball purposes but the Hornets must still be mindful of “EVERYTHING” they’re getting when it comes to Howard.
Howard, when focused, is still one of the best centers in the NBA but it’s that other half of him that causes issues. During his time in Orlando, he was the happy-go-lucky young kid, just happy to be in the NBA. Once he stepped on the court, the smiles and jokes went away. He just dominated the competition to the tune of 18 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game but the relationship soured in Orlando and off to L.A. he went.
This is where Howard’s career and reputation began to take a hit.
It was somewhat frosty as he left Orlando with reports of him being a prima-dona but when he arrived with the Los Angeles Lakers, it got worse. This was to be a championship team with him, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol but if never panned out due to injuries and personalities. Bryant wanted more from Howard than he was willing to give.
He arrived in Houston looking to change the way people view him but issues with James Harden arose and while Howard may have spoken some truth to Harden being a ball hog, he went about it wrong and was forced to leave the Houston Rockets.
Now, he returns home to the South where he may face the same situation he did with the Lakers and Houston.
He will not be the main attraction with the Charlotte Hornets. Howard may be the hot commodity due to his stature and being a prized possession of the free agent/trade market but the Hornets belong to Kemba Walker.
Can the two of them become what Howard and Harden were supposed to be? It can work if Walker is willing to let go of the reigns just a bit. Playing with Harden had to be tough as he was the primary ball-handler and scorer much like Walker will be.
Walker is not known to be one of the best passing point guards in the league, however, he’s never played with a Center of this magnitude. Walker, for his career, has averaged just five assists per game but with a shooter like Nicolas Batum on the wings and Howard in the post, Walker could be in-store for a career year assists wise.
Success for the Hornets will largely depend on if Howard is willing to continue to take a backseat. If the Hornets can convince Walker that it will be in his and the team’s best interest to reduce his 18 shots per game and up his assists then the Hornets could be up there with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics in the East.