I thought Dwight Howard made the best decision from a basketball standpoint when he opted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency and sign the max contract for four years with the Houston Rockets. The big story, deservingly, is Howard pairing up with James Harden, one of the most lethal scorers and creators in the NBA. For me, that is the focal point that makes this team lightyears better with Howard as the anchor.
The Houston Rockets were second in the NBA in scoring last season at 106 PPG, but also finished 28th in points allowed. For a team that averaged nearly 29 three-point attempts per game, and even tied the league record for most made in one game (23) it wouldn't seem like Dwight Howard is the ideal fit. Besides now having a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, all you really need to know is Howard will be setting high ball screens for James Harden. If the idea of having to defend that doesn't freak you out, then frankly, you've never watched James Harden. In pick-and-roll situations Harden might be the biggest threat of any ball handler in the league; he has the ability to reject screens and punish you with the outside shot, or use the screen and employ his exceptional facilitating to find shooters such as Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverly, or even Jeremy Lin. These screens will now be set by the broad-shouldered Howard, who as the roll man, is much more of a threat than Omer Asik.
Howard thinks his new team resembles the look of his Orlando Magic squad that reached the NBA Finals in 2009. That Orlando team did not have anyone of Harden's individual talent, but you will see similarities in how Howard's presence is able to free up others on the Houston perimeter. Encouraging is head coach Kevin McHale, one of the premiere post players of all time, and Hakeem Olajuwon, mentor to the Rockets organization, now actively part of Howard's development. Also encouraging is the addition of veteran Ronnie Brewer for added defense. This team now must be acknowledged this season and for the considerable future.
- Martin S. @marley_mcfly