Dwight Howard’s arrival in Houston signals the arrival of one of the most dominant players in basketball, along with one of the most polarizing personalities in sports. Here at Red94, we are embracing the drama of Superman’s first season as a Rocket with a weekly column: “DwightLife.”
Saturday night’s game against Detroit wasn’t meant to be remembered. It was a lopsided matchup in a half-empty arena. Local broadcasts only.
Dwight Howard changed all that by kicking his successor in the teeth.
The statistical revolution has created rivals for Dwight Howard who would not have been considered to be in his class 15 years ago. He faced one of them–Roy Hibbert–on Friday night. Hibbert got in the club by anchoring a team of elite defenders and holding opponents to 42 percent shooting at the rim. Howard put up a solid game against Hibbert while holding the ex-Hoya to an embarrassing line of 9 points, 6 rebounds (and a block). That might have mattered if Houston didn’t lose by 35 points.
The real statement was made against Andre Drummond. After less than a season and a half in the NBA, Drummond has been anointed as “the next Dwight Howard.” If you don’t believe me, just ask Google:
Drummond narrowly edges Howard in PER so far this year, and in his rookie season, he put up eye-popping per-minute numbers. So on Saturday night, when Superman dropped 35 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and a steal on the sophomore, it was a stunning reminder of the difference between efficiency and dominance.
Efficiency is about picking your spots. It’s about playing within yourself. It’s about getting easy buckets. Dominance means going right at your opponent’s strongest defender and scoring. It means running the same play over and over again because your opponent can’t stop it. It’s about making hard buckets look easy.
Dwight Howard was nothing if not dominant on Saturday. He and Drummond put their cards on the table, and Howard took home all the chips. Drummond’s most spectacular score was a windmill dunk which he earned by cherry-picking in transition. Howard sealed the deal in the fourth quarter by blowing by Drummond on a post up and slamming it home with about 5:30 left to go. Aside from a few breathtaking goaltends, the Big Penguin was more like a lame duck most of the night.
Ten years from now, when Dwight is retired and someone is making a documentary on his career, the forgettable Saturday night game against Detroit will come up again. Andre Drummond will be the one talking about it. He’ll be remembering the time Superman schooled him on what it means to be dominant.