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Dwight Howard wanted the ball more, admits tension in Houston

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that everything wasn’t perfect for Dwight Howard in Houston these past three years.

Howard is off to join the Atlanta Hawks now, but not before delivering some parting shots towards his old team.

In an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike yesterday, Howard admitted there was tension between himself and star James Harden. When asked if he wanted more touches, he replied: “No doubt. I know what I’m capable of. It wasn’t like I came in asking for the ball on every possession.”

Howard did lead the league in post touches last season, but he also wasn’t exactly being utilized like he was Shaq or Hakeem Olajuwon.

The thing is, Howard has never really been that guy. Even during his peak, leading the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals back in 2009, Howard was the product of a system, setting screens and rolling to the rim with the occasional post-up sprinkled in. For a long time, Howard has been one of the most athletic centers in the league, but his array of post moves has consisted mostly of soft lefty hooks and rumbles to the rim.

It’s on teams and coaches to do a better job of getting efficient finishers like Howard more looks. That’s never a bad thing. What’s different with Howard is his on-court demeanor doesn’t seem to match these comments of unhappiness about a lack of touches. He should be demanding on the court, not off of it.

In his new home under head coach Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta, we might see more of the Orlando-version of Howard than we have over the past four years. Spacing with four players beyond the arc is critical to the Hawks’ offense, which should lend to more opportunties for Howard to roll hard to the rim with plenty of space. He can also take up all of the post-ups that left with Al Horford’s move to the Boston Celtics.

Howard isn’t the first to throw shade at the team he is leaving, and it’s not the first time Howard himself has done this. But he’s not wrong about the fit in Houston being less than ideal. Maybe he’ll finally find what he’s looking for back home in Atlanta.

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