Dwight Howard looking to prove hes still a superstar with Hornets

Despite being overlooked in recent seasons and missing All-Star selections, newest Hornet confident he can regain dominance in Charlotte

Jason Getz—USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22

Dwight Howard is 31 years old and entering his 14th season in the NBA. Despite the fact that the eight-time All-Star hasn’t been voted to the illustrious game in the last three seasons, he’s confident he can regain that form with the Hornets.When Howard was traded to Charlotte last Tuesday, it came as a shock to most in the NBA community — even Howard was jokingly tweeting about NBA trade rumors when it happened. Now that he has come to terms with leaving his hometown Hawks for the Hornets, Howard is ready to get back to his All-Star ways.”A lot of people have written me off, which is great because it’s going to make me work even harder,” Howard said at his introductory news conference. “I’m just looking forward to this opportunity because I have a lot left in the tank.”Last season, Howard averaged 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, which was near his production during the last two seasons in Houston. However, he saw his role diminished in the playoffs as Atlanta was bounced in the first round by Washington with Howard averaging just eight points and 10.7 rebounds.Those numbers might not be what Howard wants, but they are better than the current starting center in Charlotte. Cody Zeller started 58 games last year while posting career highs in points (10.3) and rebounds (6.3), both of which are lower than Howard has ever averaged in 14 years in the NBA.Zeller will likely be moved to a backup role, bolstering the depth inside along with Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky at the power forward position. But head coach Steve Clifford, who was Howard’s assistant coach with the Magic and Lakers, is excited about much more than his offensive talents.”I’m excited about working with Dwight again,” Clifford said. “He brings a defensive mindset, shot blocking ability and a level of physicality that will be a huge asset for us. We look forward to him continuing his career here in Charlotte.”As for Howard, the veteran forward had glowing remarks about his new coach, too.”He understands me,” Howard said. “… He was always there for me and not once did he turn his back on me or talk bad about me. He was very positive and he was somebody that I have always trusted in.”Howard wasn’t the only player added to the Hornets’ roster last week. The backcourt also saw a vast improvement with the selections of Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon in the 2017 NBA Draft. With Monk going No. 11 overall, he’s expected to fight for playing time with entrenched starter Nicolas Batum alongside All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.But with Howard set to be paid $23.5 million in each of the next two seasons, the pressure will be firmly on his shoulders to carry the team in the paint. Pressure won’t be the only thing on Howard’s shoulders though — there’s clearly a chip there, too.”Over the years a lot of things have been said and I’ve not said anything back,” Howard said. “Somehow things that weren’t true kept getting stirred up, and that gave a lot of people wrong opinions about who I was as a person. I should be the one speaking up for myself instead of allowing other people to do that.”