Wizards’ Brooks: Howard is ‘a high-level player’

Dwight Howard signed a two-year deal with Washington this summer.

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks met with Dwight Howard in Los Angeles last week for a few hours to get to know his new starting center and says everything that was discussed was about winning and the team.

Howard signed a two-year, $11 million free agent deal with the Wizards. Washington traded Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers and were in need of a big man.

At the end of the 2017-18 season, Brooks and star point guard John Wall highlighted specific types of players they wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, the two men pointed to an athletic big.

At Howard’s introductory press conference Monday, Brooks said the Wizards are adding a high-level player who can do multiple things on the offensive and defensive end.

“What he brings to our team, you don’t just find off the street,” Brooks said. “It’s a high-level player. It’s a player that does so many things on the defensive end and a player that does so many things offensively. We want to shoot more threes and by having him on our team, it allows us to get more threes because you have to pay attention to his athleticism, his ability to finish at the rim. He’s a great screen-setter.”

Howard was fairly productive with the Charlotte Hornets this past season. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 55.5 percent from the field in 81 games.

The eight-time All-Star thanked his new point guard, Wall, for reaching out to him after he was bought out by the Brooklyn Nets.

“I think we’re going to have a beautiful season,” Howard said. “I just think we’re going to shock a lot of people. Shout out to John for reaching out to me and asking me to join this team. No disrespect to any of the point guards I played with in my career, John is a different type of animal.”

The Wizards’ starting lineup will most likely feature Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Howard. With LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference, the East is wide open and the Wizards could make some noise.

Brooks says the Wizards’ offense won’t change too drastically with Howard in the mix, but wants to utilize Howard’s skill set.

“We want to play different,” Brooks said. “Not necessarily an overhaul, but we want to take advantage of his skill set. He’s one of the best finishers around the rim. He’s a guy, he can catch lobs. I joked with John last week. A lot of his bad passes aren’t going to be turnovers because he’s going to be able to throw it two feet above the rim and [Howard’s] going to be able to catch it.”

Wall is excited to play with Howard and says he will benefit the team in a variety of ways.

“Even though he’s older, he’s still an athletic big and still has respect in this league,” Wall told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington. “I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he’s a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we’re attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we’re throwing lobs. I think that benefits us a lot.

“I think it’s an opportunity to see how it pans out, to have an athletic big and somebody who’s going to re-correct their career. I think it should be fun and exciting for us. Hopefully he comes in with a serious focus and mind-set (that) he wants to get better and help our team. We’re about to sit back and see what happens.”