After choosing to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets this offseason, Dwight Howard is looking to have a fresh new start to his NBA career.
With that being said, by Howard making the decision to leave one of the league’s most heralded franchises, the three-time defensive player of the year will never be happy and here are five reasons to support this belief:
1. Will be known as a second fiddle
One problem that surfaced during his one season with the Lakers last year is that Howard cannot accept being his team’s second option. What he truly desires is to be the number one scoring option and the quote unquote “top dog” of his team. This was exemplified with Howard having difficulty playing with Kobe Bryant who has unquestionably played that role with the Lakers for years and upon his arrival he expected the 17-year veteran to give up that position.
So now that Howard will be playing with James Harden, who is also in a very similar position with the Rockets as to Bryant’s with the Lakers, what’s not say that he won’t complain about his role on his new team? He is also going to a team where the franchise has been labeled as Harden’s team. With the Rockets already described as Harden’s team, it is hard to believe Howard will accept it because of what happened last season with Bryant stating that Lakers are his team.
2. Could not handle the pressures of Los Angeles
Howard’s decision to leave Los Angeles, which is the second largest market in the United States, certainly gives the impression that the big man could not handle the Hollywood spotlight. Before being traded to the Lakers last offseason, he had spent his first eight seasons in the league with a small market franchise in the Orlando Magic.
There is clearly a huge difference in the market size for each franchise as the Lakers receive large amount of media coverage. Even if the Lakers were to be a horrible team this season they would still receive more media attention than a good Orlando team because they are one of the most illustrious organizations in the NBA. So the move to ditch Los Angeles, left fans with the perception that he ran away from the pressures of being a Laker.
In other words, Howard’s move for many fans it falls under the old saying that states “if you can’t handle the heat than get out of the kitchen.”
3. Public perception labels him as a “bad teammate”
As more time passes this offseason, more news has come forth about the demands Howard made to Lakers in order to keep his services which undoubtedly make him sound like a bad teammate. There have been several reports that he wanted Los Angeles to use their amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant because he did not like playing with him and he also asked for head coach Mike D’Antoni to be fired because he did not have a larger role in his offense.
It did not end there as he did not comply with Steve Nash last season in running the pick and roll, which is something that is known that he and Nash each strived at running throughout both of their careers. What this really demonstrates is that he was unwillingly to do what was best for the team. He may have been unhappy with D’Antoni’s offensive scheme but if he would have accepted his role in the offense and fully committed himself to the defensive end of the floor it would have been one less distraction around the team that would of in turn allowed them to focus on just playing on basketball rather than focusing on how many touches Howard is receiving each game.
This has not been the first time Howard has had issues with either his head coach or teammates. During his time in Orlando, there were reports he was unhappy with head coach Stan Van Gundy and Howard responded by denying that he stated that he wanted his coach fired, but what ended up happening was that Van Gundy was fired by season’s end. As for his issues with his teammates in Orlando, Howard on multiple occasions blamed his teammates and not himself for the team’s lack of success.
What these things ultimately do is give the public the perception that he is not a good teammate in the aspect that he is someone cannot take his share of the responsibility when his team struggles. What his past shows is that he is a person who will point to others for their faults as being the cause to the team’s lack of success. Howard wants to be liked by everyone and if his own team’s fan base does not accept his utter lack of taking credit for his team’s difficulties it will certainly affect him because he cares too much about what others think of him.
4. Never be a go to guy in the fourth quarter
In the past couple of season in the NBA, Howard has notoriously been a liability on the offensive end a fourth quarter due to his unrefined offensive skills and poor free throw shooting. There is no doubting that the seven-time All-Star is very a talented player but what it comes down to is that he cannot be consistently relied upon for offense late in games. He is limited in the low post and if he is fouled he has proven over time that he cannot knock down critical free throw down the stretch.
His inability to be a go-to option in the fourth quarter of games only makes him an effective player on the defensive side of the court. Howard wants the responsibility of being a source of offense late in games but his limited offensive skills only makes him unreliable. Now that he is getting a “fresh start” with the Rockets he will certainly begin to demand the ball late in games and all teams will have to do is send him to the free throw line where he struggles.
If Howard does not improve his offensive repertoire it will certainly frustrate him again that he will have a lesser role in the team’s offense in the fourth quarter as he did with the Lakers last season.
5. May never win a championship
What will ultimately keep Howard unhappy will be the inability to win a championship. In today’s society it is what solidifies great players legacies. Howard does not have to look any further than what LeBron James went through. Once James made the decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after the 2009-10 season, it put the pressures of winning a championship to the forefront because he was joining the Miami Heat alongside star players in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. After not winning the championship in his first year with the Heat, he was looked by many as possibly becoming a great player who is not defined as a winner in the eyes of the public because he could not win a ring.
Howard’s belief is that he already a winner because he has been in the NBA longer than the average player. If he does not win a championship with the Rockets or whatever team he spends the rest of his NBA career with, he will forever be judged, as LeBron was two years ago, as someone who could not get it when it comes to leading his team to a championship.
If Howard is assessed as so, it would not be hard to believe that it would bother him and make him unhappy that people are judging him as a player by the amount of rings he has rather than how he played throughout his career in the NBA. What this comes down to is that Howard loves to be liked by everyone and if he is labeled as not being a winner than it will certainly make him forever unhappy in that aspect.
Bob Garcia IV
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