Dwight Howard and 5 NBA Stars Still Learning How to Fit with Their New Team
Think of changing teams in the NBA like moving from one house to another. You might go about your daily business in similar fashion, but so many of the little things are different.
You have to take a different route to work, you have a different floor plan to navigate at home, the grocery store is in a different location and you have new people to interact with. Even though your goals might not change, the little parts of your everyday life are certainly new.
Such is the case for NBA players when they put on a new uniform. The goal is still to score points and keep the opponents from lighting up the scoreboard, but the methods of achieving that goal are quite different.
New players surround you, new plays must be learned and so on. Oh, and you have to change houses as well.
It should come as no surprise that some players struggle initially when making the transition. For every James Harden, Kevin Martin or Kyle Lowry, there's a Dwight Howard, a star who is still learning how to fit with his new team.
Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.0 steals, 14.32 PER
Andrew Bogut has been working himself back into playing shape on the court for the Golden State Warriors during the 2012-13 season. Even though he technically joined the squad in a midseason trade that sent him from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Dubs, he never suited up, making this his de facto first season with the team.
His ankle is continuing to limit his minutes while forcing the occasional DNP.
Although he's made a positive impact—especially on the defensive end, where the Warriors have shown a marked improvement during the young season—he's still doing so in limited spurts and has yet to truly build chemistry with his new teammates.
Then there's this news about Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, which comes to us via Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group:
Jackson is having to employ the quadratic equation to properly manage Bogut's minutes. Analyzing which games Bogut will play in is just another duty for the second-year head coach.
And [Bob] Myers, a rookie general manager who made the blockbuster trade to land Bogut, is having to ignore every competitive bone in his body to set an example of patience.
Many Warriors fans, teased by the way Bogut changes games when he's on the floor, seem to be growing antsy because of the lack of certainty.
Despite my solid mathematical background, I have absolutely no idea what could compel Jackson to use the quadratic equation in this situation. I'm going to assume that Thompson is poking fun at the Warriors' handling of their injured center
But then again, it's the Dubs.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 19.70 PER
Dwight Howard's numbers might look impressive so far, but they don't touch on what he can do when fully healthy, fully engaged and fully comfortable with the offensive and defensive schemes.
Plus, the most important numbers look significantly more shabby.
Those would be the win-loss numbers that comprise the Lakers' 1-3 record in the opening week of the NBA season.
Howard appears to be on the right track if the first victory of the season—a dominant performance against the lowly Detroit Pistons—was any indication. He looked noticeably smoother and more energetic on the court, rotating into the proper positions with much more speed.
Just as is the case with Andrew Bogut, Howard's adjustment stems from two things: his recovery from his back injury and his developing chemistry with his new teammates.
Team: Denver Nuggets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 13.19 PER*
Andre Iguodala put together a solid performance against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday to help the Denver Nuggets earn their first victory of the season, but that shouldn't mask the fact that he's struggled at the start of the year.
The swingman's efficiency problems are a major reason it took the Nuggets until game four before finally getting their first W.
A bit too pumped up to make his former team look bad, Iggy was ice cold in the opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, hitting only five of his 13 shots from the field.
After knocking down just 40 percent of his field-goal attempts against the Pistons, Iguodala is now shooting 43.4 percent for the season. He's also turning the ball over four times per game.
The athleticism and versatility are there, but it's been quite clear that Iguodala isn't always on the same page as his new team. He's getting closer, but a couple more flips are necessary before that same page is reached.
*Per-game stats updated through Tuesday, Nov. 6, but PER updated through Monday, Nov. 5.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 4.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 steals, 9.81 PER
Steve Nash's progression with the Los Angeles Lakers was put on hold when a collision with Portland Trail Blazers stud rookie Damian Lillard left the floor general with a small fracture in his left leg.
Now, according to the Associated Press, Nash will miss at least a week of action.
Things didn't exactly look sunny for Nash during his first foray in a purple-and-gold uniform. In fact, the jersey was the only golden thing about his performance.
I'm not going to fault Nash for that, though.
Mike Brown, for some reason that eludes me, insisted on wasting Nash's talents and playing him off the ball, where his passing was far less influential on the outcome of the game. Pick-and-rolls were not run consistently, despite the fact that Nash is one of the greatest pick-and-roll passers of all time and Howard is one of the best finishers ever.
Once the Lakers better understand their weapons, they'll start to use them properly. Nash most certainly hasn't fit in well with his new team thus far.
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.7 steals, 10.04 PER
Brandon Roy isn't really a star at this point in his NBA career, but he's a former star and on a new team, so I have no qualms about including him here.
Up to this point, the former Portland Trail Blazer has looked like a different player for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's lost control of the ball far too many times (dribbling clumsily even when not turning it over) and has missed wide-open shots with alarming frequency.
We won't know until later on whether Roy is playing his way back into pre-retirement shape or if he's just lost his skills entirely. My fingers are crossed that it's the former; regardless of your rooting affiliation, it's hard not to wish for Roy to succeed.
The shooting guard has honed his passing skills, though, and is averaging an impressive 4.3 assists per game through the T-Wolves' first three contests. He's had to pass more effectively to have any hope of offsetting his putrid 29.2 percent shooting from the field.
Roy is playing with an entirely new set of teammates right now while coming out of retirement, so let's chalk this up to rust for now.