If anyone can recall, I have, multiple times, said that 2014 would mark a new era in NBA basketball. After seeing the free agency unfold in the past few days, I stand by my statements. This year’s free agency has been full of suspense. In fact, this free agency has reminded me of the NBA of old. After Jun3, this is where star is, and should be, the biggest factor. While this free agent class wasn’t nearly as star studded as 2010, and 2014 will be, it was still a very talented class. What made this period so interesting was the fact there were so many teams with a nice amount of cap space. Add that to the limited amount of significant talent, and suddenly this free agency period becomes more like a pick-up game of basketball. If you were ever like me, and somewhat sucked at the offensive side of basketball, then you remember being on the concrete court, waiting patiently as two selected captains chose players. The first picks were obvious; they were the ones that could score best. Nobody paid any attention to defense. With that being said, you find yourself dropping all the way down to the bottom of the choices, until you’re finally picked. It’s funny how in free agency, the decision process I flipped so that the players are the captains, and the teams are in the long line of guys waiting to be picked up. As for the “captains”, the first captain was obviously Dwight Howard, and he’s made his decision; the Houston Rockets.
Around this time last year, I found myself writing about Dwight Howard, and how him coming to the Lakers would turn them into the only team that could truly compete with the Miami Heat. As we can see, I was wrong. However, I will go the extra mile to say it again; Howard going to Houston will suddenly turn the Rockets into true contenders, if they can all work together. The key ingredient to this recipe is the lack of egos in Houston. It’s safe to say that the biggest ego in Houston is certainly Howard’s. If you think about it, Jeremy Lin is still trying to find his way as a star, and while James Harden is certainly the most offensively talented player in Houston, he’s never been the one to truly demand spotlight. Hell, he spent his first few years coming off the bench in OKC behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Knowing all of this, Howard would fit perfectly in Houston. If you can remember, it was Dwight Howard that led a team of nobody’s to the NBA finals in 2009. This is the same Howard that is a multi-time defensive player of the year. Coming to a team that is still trying to learn the game of defense, Howard will be the face of the paint for the Rockets. This will open a lot of doors for guys like Lin and Harden, who are not the greatest offensive minds in the world. On the offensive end, the opportunities are endless with Howard in the frontcourt. If the Rockets want to, which they will, they can play inside out, letting Howard do work in the paint, kicking to wide open Harden and Chandler Parsons on the wings. Or, if they want to, which they will, the Rockets can run the ball, taking advantage of Howards underrated transition game. Like I said, the results are endless, and it’s a win-win for both sides.
The second captain of free agency is Josh Smith, who recently signed with the Detroit Pistons. Before I go any further, I want to point out two things: A. I told you so. B., this takes nothing away from the other free agent talents such an Andre Igoudala, Chris Paul, and Monta Ellis. However, taking in consideration that Josh Smith has been discussed since the beginning of the season, he, behind Howard, has been the most sought after free agent. A far as Smith was concerned, the one thing that truly mattered to him would be getting the respect that he truly feels he deserve; and he deserves a lot of respect. Smith has been one of the most underrated players for a long time. The NBA world seems to forget that he averaged 17ppg and 6rpg for a team that tried to trade him at the trade deadline last season. How motivated can you be under those circumstances? Coming to Detroit, Smith has the opportunity to get his respect, while helping rebuild a franchise that once stood as a franchise of dominance not too long ago. The one thing that people continue to knock against Smith for is his poor jump shooting. I will say this, with the selection of KCP in the draft, and a young and talented Brandon Knight that can shoot, Smith won’t be asked to take too many jumpers. Instead, Smith will be asked to do what he does best, defend and be an inside presence on the wing. Once again, there are people that will cry about the Pistons clogging the lane on offense. However, what we forget I that Smith will be the most athletic player on the team. Knowing this, it would be as simple as getting Greg Monroe and Drummond out of the way and letting Smith handle business at times. I’m sure that all three players can play on the court together. Hell, Smith dealt with an offensive center in Al Horford his in Atlanta. Smith in Detroit, as I said last year, will be a great look for both parties. The NBA is due for a makeover, and Howard and Smith can help lead the NBA to a new day.