Dwight Howard brings big presence down low for Wizards

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In what has been a busy NBA offseason already, the Wizards added center Dwight Howard to their list of transactions. Howard, who was bought out by the Nets after a June trade from the Hornets, joins free agent Jeff Green, draft picks Troy Brown Jr. and Issuf Sanon, waiver claim Thomas Bryant, and the acquired Austin Rivers as the team’s new additions this offseason.

Howard, 32, has made a name for himself as one of the NBA’s top centers during his years with the Magic, Lakers, Rockets, Hawks, and Hornets. He is an eight-time All-Star, five-time First Team All-NBA selection, three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and U.S.A. Olympic Gold medalist. Howard holds career averages of 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game during his 14 years in the NBA.

After a few uncharacteristic seasons in Houston and Atlanta, Howard came to Charlotte last season with a new and leaner body. The results showed: Howard averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, and may have been an All-Star if not for the Hornets’ record.

His 16.6 points per game ranked 9th among NBA centers and his 12.5 rebounds ranked 4th in the NBA overall. Howard was also 4th in the NBA last season with 174 dunks, and he will continue to have those opportunities with John Wall running the fast break and leading the team’s offense.

Howard will immediately boost the Wizards’ frontcourt with his experience, athleticism, rim-protecting, and rebounding. Still one of the NBA’s most athletic big men, Howard can battle down low with just about any center in the league. At 6’11” with a 7’5” wingspan, Howard is a rare blend of size and athleticism that the Wizards will use to their advantage.

The Wizards are planning on playing a lot of small ball next season, but Howard and Ian Mahinmi give the team two veteran centers down low. Howard will be able to play in the pick-and-roll with Wall and other ball-handlers, as well as run the floor in transition. Last season Howard finished sixth in the NBA in screen assists per game at 4.2, something the Wizards will need to continue to get their All-Star guards free to make plays.

With a dynamic starting five of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, and Dwight Howard and key reserves like Tomas Satoransky, Austin Rivers, Kelly Oubre Jr., Troy Brown Jr., Jeff Green, and Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards certainly have the talent and depth to compete in the Eastern Conference. If they can get consistent play, the Wizards will be a tough team to beat night in and night out.