Dwight Howard is going to have a lot of decisions to make this off season that will have a huge impact on the NBA next season and for years to come.
Howard will also finally get the chance to have his “recruiting period”. He can make visits to all the teams he is interested in and chose his destination for the next half decade or so. We will learn a lot about Dwight during this not so lengthy process. Has he matured in his one year in Los Angeles? Is he more worried about touches or is he in it for rings? Is he willing to be the second or third option on a great team or would he rather be the star on a mediocre one? We will also learn if Howard has enough pull to attract another superstar free agent to go with him now that Chris Paul is out of the mix. I rank the order of teams where he should go and play out of the ones he’s planning to visit in the next week or so.
5. The Dallas Mavericks- The only way this is a fit for Howard is if he doesn’t really care about winning, at least not right away. Granted, there is no state income tax in Texas and the Mavs just picked up an exciting young point guard but that’s about all that they have going for them. Dallas’s best two players still under contract are at the end of their Hall of Fame careers. If Dirk rounds back into all-star form then they would have a nice front line but i would still want Nowitzki as the focal point of the offense and that won’t suit Howard at all.
4. The Golden State Warriors- The Warriors were last year’s most successful team on Howard’s list but i don’t see him fitting into Mark Jackson’s style of play. Nor do i want this to happen for that matter. Golden State is the most exciting team in the NBA and I don’t want that to change. Andrew Bogut is a much better fit at the 5 because he is willing to sacrifice touches for the good of the team. Dwight is not willing to do that. He wants to be the focal point of the offense. If Howard was willing to sacrifice his offense and just be a Bill Russell type then the Warriors could contend for a title right away.
3. The Los Angeles Lakers- Howard doesn’t work in D’antoni’s system. Not because of the system mind you, but because Dwight wasn’t willing to buy in last year. With Kobe missing most of next season Howard can be the first option with the Lakers. With a healthy Steve Nash returning, Howard could put up the biggest offensive numbers of his career. with all that being said there are still not a title contender right away. Without Bryant and some more outside shooting the Lakers don’t have enough to contend in the western conference.
2. The Houston Rockets- the Rockets are very similar to Golden State in the fact that they already have go to guys from a playoff team. What makes him a better fit in Houston is because they have guys who know what its like to play a supporting role. James Harden was a beast in his first year as a Rocket and could be even better with Howard on the floor with him. Add to that, Harden knows how to differ when he needs to. He had to do that to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during his time in Oklahoma City. What makes it and even better fit is that the Rocket employ two of the most offensively skilled big men of all time. If anyone can teach Howard how to play more effectively on the offensive end of the floor its Kevin McHale or Hakeem Olajuwon. The draw back here is that the Rockets would have to change their offense completely. Harden and point guard Jeremy lin like to shoot the ball a lot. If they don’t want to let Howard be the lead dog on offense then he will not put forth maximum effort on the defensive end.
1. The Atlanta Hawks- If the Hawks can re-sign Josh Smith and Jeff Teague then this is by far the best fit for Dwight Howard. Atlanta would have the best defensive front court in the league and Howard can be the go to guy on offense. Smith, Teague and starting power forward Al Horford aren’t number one options on offense which would leave Dwight to be that guy. Add to that, Howard is from Atlanta and grew up playing AAU ball with Smith. If the Hawks could bring in some shooters to round out the roster than the Atlanta would be very similar to the Magic roster that Howard led to the finals a few years ago.