The NBA is in full offseason mode, highlight perhaps best by the fact that the small morsels of the 2017-2018 schedule being released are the biggest news presently.
ESPN has taken the extra time without any actual hoops action to start projecting and forecasting what the upcoming season will look like. They're going through an assortment of topics and landed on a particularly interesting subject: Who will be the worst newcomer to a franchise?
This is a tough question and one that would be surprising if ESPN nailed with so many players and such an unclear criteria, but it's an interesting exercise to see the panel of analysts general thoughts on who might be a huge dud for his new team.
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44 experts were asked to rank their top three choices for the worst newcome of the season. First-place votes received five points, second-place three points and third-place one. The result? Dwight Howard was crowned as the worst newcomer to a team with 62 points, joining the Charlotte Hornets this summer via trade.
Second place was Tim Hardaway Jr. with 43 points, third went to Rajon Rondo with 33 points, fourth to Danilo Gallinari with 22 points and fifth was Derrick Rose with 17 points.
That's a damning outcome for Howard, whose career has been in something of a downward spiral since he became a star with the Orlando Magic. His year with the Los Angeles Lakers was disastrous, he burned bridges with the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks traded him for one of the Plumlee brothers and a draft pick.
It's one of many signs of just how far Howard has fallen since his days as a reigning Defensive Player of the Year. The Hornets will hope to turn that around, featuring Howard alongside potent and highly-underrated guard Kemba Walker
"In terms of gap between perception and production, there might not be a more polarizing player than Howard. He's certainly no longer the game-changing defensive presence that made him a three-time defensive player of the year, and his offensive game is not ideally suited for the pace-and-space era," Micah Adams of ESPN Stats & Info wrote of Howard being the top pick of the panel.
Reuniting with defensive-minded Hornets coach Steve Clifford could be a huge boon for Howard, but ESPN's panel clearly has little faith that everything's going to go peachy in Charlotte.