5 Areas That Would Improve The Play of Dwight Howard If He Signed With Spurs
By Andre Key
Dwight Howard can still be a dominate force in the NBA under the right system. How would he do with the San Antonio Spurs?
Gregg Popovich is one of the premier coaches in the NBA. He does not play favorites to players, no matter how high their stardom may be. Taking a long shot here, if Howard were to sign with the Spurs, here are five areas that could help Howard rejuvenate his career.
Popovich would certainly hold Howard accountable for his miscues on the court. Pop is known as an equal opportunity coach, in that he does not play favorites when it comes to being accountable for a player’s performance. He scolds and praises everyone from the star player all the way down to the 15th man. He would certainly have to mature quickly, and learn to put a cap on allowing his frustrations to take him out of the game mentally. Players cooperate or take a seat on the bench, and in the worst case, such as Stephen Jackson’s last stint, a player will be released if he’s just too uncooperative.
Apr 21, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) blocks a shot by Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) during the first quarter in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Reigning and repeat Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs best perimeter defender, and in this case, Howard would be the Spurs’ best-shot blocker. One of Howard’s strong suits is protecting the paint and grabbing rebounds, which is something that would heavily favor the Spurs. While the Spurs fall in the area of around 43 rebounds and 5 blocks per game, Howard’s 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game (averaged this season) would certainly give opposing teams nightmares in the paint.
LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the Spurs, but did not take long to find himself integrated in the culture of the team and improved more and more as the season went on. Howard would not feel the need to beg for touches or a place in the offense because the Spurs love to share. If you are in the right position (which Popovich would make sure of) you will get the ball to either make a play or score on an assist. The Spurs averaged 24.5 assist per game this season, so Howard would never need to worry about if he will ever touch the ball when he gives his all on defense.
One thing Howard has not had in the past few years since leaving Orlando is great leadership. While James Harden and Kobe Bryant are magnificent talents, the brash personalities were not the best fit for Howard. That’s partly his own fault, and partly his colleagues’ as well for not adjusting. The Spurs know how to balance teaching, discipline and experience to put a player in a great position to be responsible for his own actions and growth. He would greatly benefit from experience and wisdom, and family-like attitudes from players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and even Boris Diaw. The perfect mix of players who know what it’s like to make it to the top without throwing around who they are, and how important they are. In other words, the “me first” attitude is not a part of the Spurs culture.
Not only would the Spurs’ winning culture continue because Howard would provide some much needed inside firepower, but he would also be exposed to a franchise that is on the same page from top to bottom. They all want the same thing from the front office to the last man on the bench, and they do what’s necessary to make it happen.
That’s where teammate Jason Terry offers his input. He believes Howard will need to get “it” and can get it.
After spending time on Sirius XM NBA radio, he talked about the Rockets, but added in what he think Howard needs.
Again, it’s just going to depend on if you get the right coach in there. At this point in his career, he’s not going to be the focal point offensively. They’ve made that clear. He’s gonna have to buy into the role fully, commit himself to setting screens, rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots and working on his free throws, obviously.