Is Dwight Actually Fitting In?

Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith famously put Dwight Howard through a ringer on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” about his personality, reputation, and free agency. Howard clearly didn’t know what was coming and did his best to deflect their questions. He looked bad. Like back when he was with the Lakers bad.

When he decided to come home and play for the Atlanta Hawks, it was surprising for a couple of reasons. Head coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d want to put up with a headache like Howard, and no one goes home. Except for LeBron, of course.

Well, the rumors swirled that no one wanted Dwight because he was a cancer in the locker room and that reputation started to outweigh his talent. Finally. He had clearly lost a step offensively, but the dude is still one of the best rim protectors in the game.

Just check out what he’s doing for the Hawks. They’re first in defensive efficiency, second in rim protection, and ranked in the 100th percentile of efficiency in defending post up plays.

Howard is first in the league in offensive and total rebound percentage. Due to his incredible influence, the Hawks rank fifth in rebound rate, after being one of the worst rebounding teams in the league in 2015-16.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.