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Can Dwight Howard propel Atlanta Into NBA Finals?

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Dwight Howard - Atlanta Hawks

On July 12, 2016, the Atlanta Hawks announced they had signed veteran center Dwight Howard.

“We would like to welcome Dwight, and his family, home to Atlanta and into our Hawks basketball family.  We feel Dwight will have a huge impact on both ends of the court with his physical presence and the force he brings to the game,” President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said, per NBA.com.

This is a great move for basketball reasons, but also because it brought a legendary player back home. Howard is from Atlanta, Georgia, and his presence, and cache will spark interest in the Hawks across the United States.

The Hawks are a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, qualifying every year since 2008, but have only one Conference Finals appearance in that time span.

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Howard is a player that can change the negative spiral the Hawks find themselves in every spring, which is Atlanta is good in the regular season, but fades away in the playoffs. After all, he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. And, that Magic squad was one blundered away – Stan Van Gundy’s decision to bring Jameer Nelson back in the starting lineup, which destroyed the rotation – from winning it all.

Howard will strengthen Atlanta’s defense, which was one of the best unit in the NBA, a year ago. According to ESPN.com, the Hawks had the second best defensive efficiency, behind San Antonio, at 98.8. This defense could potentially be the best in the NBA, which could translate to a more successful post-season for Atlanta. After all, defense wins championships.

However, the Hawks are not a good rebounding team, because Al Horford, now in Boston, played out of position during his tenure with the team. Dwight Howard will change that immediately because he plays his natural position. He has a career average of 12.7 rebounds per game, and recorded 613 double-doubles.

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According to NBA.com, Howard ranks 13th in NBA history in rebounds per game, 20th in blocks per game, 21st in blocked shots (1,824), and 27th in total rebounds (11,149).

A year ago, Atlanta was horrendous in rebounding, ranking 25th in defensive rebounding behind the Los Angeles Lakers! And dead last in offensive rebounding (30th). Dwight Howard will turn those numbers around.

When you consider that the Hawks are a pretty good shooting team, tied with Toronto for seventh best in the NBA at 55.2 per cent in true shooting percentage. Although their offensive efficiency ranks low (18th in the NBA), they still average over 100 points per 100 possessions (103.0). Atlanta can score; they just need to be more efficient with their offensive possessions.

The knock against Atlanta, in recent years, has been that they don’t have a go-to guy that can win them tough contests; however, with a collection of talents spread around the court, and an immovable pillar below the rim, the Hawks could shoot the lights out of a gym, and Dwight Howard would only have to rebound and execute put-back dunks.

The 2016-17 Atlanta Hawks could look a lot like the 2008-10 Orlando Magic squads that did not have great outside players, but players who collectively could shoot (very) well, and a monster in the middle of the paint.

Atlanta could very well be Dwight Howard’s last stop in the NBA, and with his career on the line, in the town where he was born, could Howard make believers in all of us that he has changed since the ugly on-going battle to leave Orlando in 2012?

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NBA

Blazing A Trail Back To The NBA. Portland Land Carmelo

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Blazing a trail back to the NBA Portland land Carmelo
Red, white and back...

Catching the ball out of bounds as a spectator courtside. Carmelo Anthony is no longer dribbling the ball to the baseline in street clothes. About to put up a shot before smiling and passing it to the referee like, “just kidding!”

‘Bout time.

‘Melo is back and Twitter just won’t calm down.

He deserves the character.

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Way to reverse the trends Carmelo.

No New York state of reunion. Or things to do in Denver when your career is almost dead for the Nugget golden era icon. No chance to finally wear that Atlanta Hawk jersey they especially made for him. No banana boat ride with LeBron in Lakeland for the purple and gold to finally get another Anthony they seemed forever linked with like arms of the father of the bride. No matrimony to toast with wine friend Chris Paul back in Oklahoma (although the Thunder and roaring Rockets wish they could have him now) either. But the man who was wedded to rumour for this last year like he always will be the game has ended up blazing a trail back to the NBA with Portland. Back in bloom in Rose City as ‘Melo shows with Rip City it’s not R.I.P. to his career, but the criticism that came to whether he was still capable on court.

Rest peacefully.

The hoodie and headband is back.

Just look at his t-shirt in the above picture. Soaked through with sweat in just another practice run were he just wouldn’t give up or in.

Now it’s time to really ball.

Sure it would have been great to see him basketball befriend the King rival he rookie entered the league with for a true Hollywood end. The Basketball God storybooks would have loved him to retake his Knick throne as the Ewing, Bernard, King of New York even more. But now he’s blazing with the PDX best backcourt duo of Dame Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Joining All Star, legend vets like Pau Gasol to help this Wild West team back to the contender saloon. Last time he left the league, ‘Melo had averages of 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. With percentages of 40.5% from the field and 32.8% from three. And Houston thought they’d have no problem giving him up and keeping CP3 and James Harden like OKC losing an OK3 of him, Westbrook and PG3?

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They said he wasn’t in the game like A.I. But he’s a ‘Champion’ like Young Jeezy on a Nicki Minaj song with Nas and Drake. “Big ballin’ like Jeremy Lin (doing so in Beijing), ‘Melo!”

What a difference a year makes.

It’s all A-O.K. now.

Now it’s Jamal Crawford’s turn to crossover back.

No ‘Melo yellow. Or Syracuse orange in N.Y.C. But none of that matters. The contract in Oregon is non guaranteed. But call it a comeback like Dwight Howard back in Lakeland. And you’ve seen what a couple of big dunks, blocks and games has done to his big man Laker legacy. After it looked like he was blackballed from the NBA, let alone Hollywood. But you can always flip the script and bring your big name back. And when it comes to the back of your jersey. Not many come bigger than number 15 or 7 with his new seal.

He’s one of the greats like is a N.Y.K. G.O.A.T. This generation, or the game all-time. It’s time to recognize what the name means. This is not redemption. But a revolution in reunion of a legend and the game he’s given everything to. That’s finally giving him what’s owed to him.

The respect he deserves.

The legacy continues.

You can’t keep a good man down.

Hoods up for this marathon. The hate is gone like a sprint through social media.

All for the love of the hardwood.

Summer run to season come.

Stay ‘Melo. Because your boy is back like he never left.

Don’t call it a comeback…he’s here to stay.

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Marial Shayok 42 points helps Delaware Blue Coats get first win

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Marial Shayok 42 Points Helps Delaware Blue Coats Get First Win

Marial Shayok became the first Ottawa basketball player to get drafted into the NBA and now he’s quickly making a case for permanent NBA roster spot.

Two games into his G-league/NBA career the former Iowa State Cyclones is sizzling hot — averaging 38 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Shayok made a splash with a 34 point, 6 rebound, 3 assist debut and upped his numbers in his second game as the Delaware Blue Coats downed the Greensboro Swarm 141-135 to pick-up their first win.

The Philadelphia 76ers two-way player scored 42 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and added 3 assists in just 34 minutes. Shayok connected on 14-of-27 shots, 3-of-9 triples and a perfect 9-of-9 at the charity stripe.

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Shayok, alongside a bevy of Canadians are currently strutting their games in the G-League — vying for a call-up for the bright lights.

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Resilient, shorthanded Raptors hand Lakers 113-104 home loss

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Resilient, Short-handed Raptors Hand Lakers 113-104 Home Loss
Toronto Raptors' Norman Powell takes it to the hoop against Lakers

Talk about about being resilient. Talk about championship mentality. Talk about next man up!

The shorthanded Toronto Raptors — missing two of their main players walked into Staples Centre and walked out with an impressive 113-104 signature victory over the highly touted Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors improve to 7-2 on the young season and in the process and have now beaten the Los Angeles Lakers 10 straight times — dating back to the 2014-15 regular season when the Lakers won 129-122 in overtime in L.A.

Pascal Siakam continued his stellar season with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks. Freddy VanVleet was also brilliant with 22 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals. Chris Boucher came off the bench to spark the Raptors on both ends of the court, including back-to-back key blocks on Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Montreal native tied a career-high with 15 points, 3 blocks, 2 steals — including 9 points in the fourth quarter.

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Norman Powell added 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Rookie Terrence Davis filled-up the stat sheet with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, playing his first significant action of the season, rounded out six Raptors’ players in double-figures with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Anthony Davis paced the Lakers with 27 points and 8 rebounds. Lebron James added to his triple-double total with 13 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds. Danny Green was held scoreless in 27 minutes.

The Raptors currently on five game west coast swing improve to 4-0 against the tough western conference and will play former teammate Kawhi Leornard and the Los Angeles Clippers in their next game, before wrapping-up one their longest road trips with games against Portland and the Dallas Mavericks.

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