The beginning of a new season brings another crop of rookies eager to prove they belong amongst the world’s best players. Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, and the rest of the 2016 rookie class will step onto the court and play against today’s biggest superstars.
Everybody starts somewhere. The biggest names in basketball were rookies once upon a time, too. Check out how LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and the rest of basketball’s stars faired in their first career games. Who impressed, and who struggled?
Perhaps nobody faced greater expectations in their first game that LeBron James. He was just a few months out of high school, where he was dubbed ‘The Chosen One.’ James delivered in his first career game, scoring 25 points and adding nine assists and four steals, but it was a losing effort against Sacramento. James’ stat line is even more remarkable considering the media circus that was on hand for his highly anticipated debut.
Stephen Curry was solid in his opening game, scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists, but his team ultimately suffered a one-point loss. Interestingly, the sharpshooter only took one 3-pointer in the game, and missed it. In fact, it wasn’t until his 10th game that he took more than three 3-pointers in a game. He finished the season with 17.5 points per game, while making an average of 2.1 3-pointers per game. Last season, he made over five per game while averaging a career-high 30.1 points per game.
After dominating the college ranks for a year at Texas, the 19-year-old Durant seamlessly transitioned to the league with an 18 point outing in his first game. He pulled in five rebounds, as well, but his team struggled and went on to lose by 17 points. In fact, wins were tough to come by for a while, as Durant’s team lost the first eight games of the season despite Durant reaching double-figures in each contest.
Despite being sidelined for most of his only collegiate season, Kyrie Irving was still taken with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Irving would go on to have a successful rookie season, but he struggled in his first game. He scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field, while adding seven assists. He went on to average 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game for the season, proving that the first game isn’t always an indication of how a season will go.
Paul George also struggled in his debut, scoring only four points while missing four of his five shot attempts. George was largely a role player for most of the season, before being inserted into the starting lineup late in the year and into the playoffs. He finished the season with nearly eight points per game.
It’s hard to imagine now, but Kobe Bryant’s spectacular career got off to a rough start. The 18-year-old only played six minutes in his debut and missed the only shot he took. He finished the game with zero points, one rebound, one block, and a turnover. He averaged just 7.6 points per game in his rookie season, a far cry from the Kobe we would see just a few years later.
The Flash burst onto the scene in his first career game with an impressive stat line that included 18 points, four rebounds, and four assists. He was also a workhorse, racking up 41 minutes of playing time in his debut. Like his future teammate LeBron James, Wade also failed to come away with the win in his introduction to the league.
As an 18-year-old, Dwight Howard gave everyone a preview of what was to come by posting a double-double in his first game. He scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while also recording four blocks in a winning effort. Interestingly, the big man also grabbed three steals and two assists to round out a solid debut.
A 20-year-old Derrick Rose showed his versatile skill set and ability to run an offense in his career debut, scoring 11 points and dropping nine assists to just miss out on a double-double. He struggled with his shooting percentage, but his command of the offense helped Chicago score a double-digit victory in the season opener.
words // Brandon Richard
If Dwight Howard is overrated, he has a funny way of showing it. Last night in his Houston Rockets debut, the five-time rebounding champion tied a career-high with 26 boards in a 96-83 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Howard signed a four-year deal with the Rockets in the offseason after a tumultuous exit from Orlando and disappointing one-year stay in Los Angeles.
To make his decision and train for the upcoming season, Howard retreated to Colorado, where he spent part of his time filming this new ‘It’s About Now’ spot with adidas Basketball. In the clip, we see a more mature and insightful Dwight moving past the hard times and staying focused on what’s ahead.
Check out the video below and let us know what you think Dwight’s ceiling is in Houston.
words // Brandon Richard
After two seasons of uncertainty and indecisiveness, the “Dwightmare” is finally over. In a tweet sent out Friday night, Dwight Howard announced that he will resume his playing career with the Houston Rockets next season.
image via Dwight Howard’s Twitter account.
The surprising decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers comes after a disappointing season in which the Lakers barely found a way into the playoffs and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs. Despite being hampered by back and shoulder injuries all season, Howard led the league in rebounding for the fifth time and started for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game.
According to reports, Howard will sign a 4-year deal worth approximately $88 million dollars and an opt-out clause in the fourth season. Contracts cannot officially be signed until July 10.
Howard’s decision has often been compared to LeBron James’ decision in 2010, when the now four-time MVP announced he’d be taking his talents to South Beach. While there may be some similarities, Howard’s divorce from the Orlando Magic (and now the Los Angeles Lakers) has been a bit more “messy.” In March of 2012, Howard waived his Early Termination Option (ETO) to remain with the Orlando Magic after demanding a trade to the New Jersey Nets earlier in the season. Things took a turn for the worse in April when coach Stan Van Gundy awkwardly revealed that Howard had asked for him to be replaced. About a week later, Howard was diagnosed with a herniated disk, ending his season and Magic career.
When the firing of Van Gundy and a brand new General Manager for the Magic did little to repair the relationship with Howard, he was traded to the Lakers in a 4-team blockbuster last August. The change of scenery didn’t do much for Howard’s happiness — he reportedly clashed with Kobe Bryant all season long and was never healthy enough to perform at his usual level. Howard was harshly criticized by national media for getting himself ejected in his final game as a Laker.
With the signing, the upstart Houston Rockets immediately put themselves in a position to contend for an NBA Championship. Led by All-Star guard James Harden, the Rockets dropped a closely contested first round playoff series against the Oklahoma City back in May. Harden and forward Chandler Parsons were instrumental in recruiting Howard to Houston, keeping in close communication with him for several months. The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors were also in pursuit of Howard this summer.
What was all the fuss about? Howard is a 7-time NBA All-Star and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year. He also has five rebounding titles, led the league in shot blocking twice and made a trip to the NBA Finals with the Magic in 2009.
So, after landing the biggest free agent of the summer, do you think the Houston Rockets now have enough to win the West and play for an NBA Championship next June? Let us know what you think about the Dwight Howard pickup below.
image via James Harden’s Instagram account.
words // Brandon Richard
For the NBA’s most dominant center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, adidas introduces a faster and stronger shoe for the new season. The adiPower Howard 3 is described by the brand as “larger than life” and “as bold and fierce as Dwight’s game.”
Signature details include a camouflage pattern on the upper representing Dwight’s fierce game in the paint and a shattered glass inspired traction pattern on the outsole as a nod to Dwight’s rim rocking dunks. The right shoe has “Dwight” on the shoe’s toe box and “Howard” on the left shoe. The tongue also features his name and DH logo, which represents power and unity.
Featured on the upper is a molded collar and TPU heel counter to provide a secure fit and support the player’s foot during hard lateral movements. Clear TPU stripes overlay mesh for lightweight support and superior breathability. Stripes are also oversized to reflect Dwight’s large personality.
The midsole is equipped with a midfoot Z TORSION plate for support and flexibility, as well as a cavity for the miCoach Speed Cell.
Non-marking rubber on the outsole features ALIVE cushioning technology for support and miCoach compatibility.
Depending on the material selection, the adiPower Howard 3 tips the scale at just 14.2 ounces (Home) to 14.6 ounces (Away).
Though Dwight has departed Orlando for the bright lights of Hollywood, you can pick up his new shoe in a Magic-inspired ‘Alternate’ Bright Blue colorway here today.
words // Brandon Richard
If you know a Los Angeles Lakers fan, there’s no doubt that they’ve had a smile glued to their face for the last three weeks. That’s because the purple and gold executed a trade that landed six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard earlier this month, presumably making them the favorites for the 2012-2013 NBA Championship. Teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder maybe have something to say about that, but the outlook is bright in sunny LA.
To celebrate the arrival of the Lakers’ latest franchise center, adidas wasted no time rolling out several new Dwight Howard t-shirts for fans to wear. The NBA Spotlight is an LA essential, featuring a screenprinted graphic of Dwight running through Hollywood. Howard’s famous NBA “Geek Chic” style is captured with the Geek Up T-Shirt, while the Game Time T-Shirt is pretty much a direct pull from the jersey.
We have all styles of these adidas T-Shirts available for Laker fans to pick up today.