The 2018 offseason got off to an ominous start for Dwight Howard, as he was traded by the Charlotte Hornets, a team that missed the playoffs last season, to the Brooklyn Nets, who despite not being a good team decided to immediately cut him loose with a buyout. But given all that went wrong in the first few weeks, Howard rebounded well with a free agent deal to join the Washington Wizards, a team that has made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.
The Wizards, in fact, may be the most talented team Howard has played on in years. With two All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal, they boast more high-end talent than either of his previous stops, the Hornets or Hawks, did at the time he played with them.
Howard believes Washington is a good opportunity for him to not only return to the playoffs, but to possibly go on a deep playoff run.
"We'll have a shot. We'll have a real shot," he said. "I think we are going to have a wonderful season. I think we are going to really just shock a lot of people."
The talent on the Wizards' roster and how he fits in was all considered when he chose to sign with the Wizards. He insists that winning is the most important thing at this point in his career and he believes, from experience going as far as the NBA Finals, that Washington has the goods to be contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Howard knows the Wizards' roster well, having played against them over the years and particularly in the playoffs in 2017. Back then he was the starting center for the Hawks and recalls being impressed when scouting the Wizards in film sessions.
Now that he is in the fold, giving the Wizards a new dimension with an athletic center, Howard believes they can be uniquely versatile.
"Man, we match up well with anybody. They're going to have to worry about trying to match up with us. We can go very big, go very small, we can play fast, we can slow the game down; which is going to be great for our team," he said.
"A lot of people, the casual fans of basketball, wouldn't understand that once you make it to the playoffs and the deeper that you go in the playoffs, the game slows down. Teams really have to use their third or fourth options to really get buckets because teams are always going to try to stop that first and second option."
The versatility of the Wizards stands out to Howard and so does their depth. In reeling off the pluses of the Wizards' roster, he went beyond the obvious of Wall, Beal and Otto Porter, Jr.
"Then you've got a guy like Kelly [Oubre, Jr.] who is young and plays with a lot of intensity and can pass the ball well. [Tomas] Satoransky, I liked him when we played against him last year. I thought this guy can really pass the ball, he can really shoot, he plays with a lot of energy. I could just go down the list and I thought 'man, this could be the perfect opportunity,'" Howard said.
Howard landed on his feet after the turmoil of his trade and buyout in a situation that is seemingly a great fit from a basketball perspective. The question, of course, will be whether they can make the most of their on-paper talent and not let intangible factors like locker room chemistry get in the way.
Tyler Byrum contributed to this report
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Comedy show: Dwight Howard had jokes at presser
- Conference winning: Who's the best player in the East now?
- Reaction: What John Wall thinks of Howard move
NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!