Houston Rockets’ summer assignment list: Part 3, Dwight Howard

Many of you were very upset by my characterization of James Harden in my last installment of this series.  There, I said that in Harden, “I [saw] a player who is selfish and not as committed to the team and winning as he is to himself.”  I stand by those comments and by that opinion. Dwight Howard is another matter altogether. To begin, Howard put any doubts to rest last season over whether he was worth the maximum contract to which he was signed.  More than just his dominance in the playoffs, he exhibited a newfound sense of maturity that would seem to bode well for the future. But for purposes of this series, what is Dwight Howard’s summer assignment?By some measures, as was chronicled on this very blog by Richard Li, Dwight Howard post-ups were the Rockets’ most inefficient play last season.  At the same time, the stretch of games where the Rockets’ center looked closer to his mentor than not was undeniable.  Howard also basically ate Robin Lopez for lunch in the postseason.  I’m not sure what to think.

Many have said they hope Howard carries the momentum of his playoff performance into next season.  I’ve countered, asserting that predication of an overall ability assessment of Howard upon the Portland series would be flawed – they were the single best matchup for him out of the seven other playoff teams.  As a representative sample of the opposite extreme, I’d point to his play against the Thunder and Clippers.  The argument then usually goes that those teams’ success against Howard is more an indictment of Terrence Jones (in those teams’ strategy to shift full attention to Howard, off of Jones).  I’d then counter that those two teams are the only opponents who really matter, for the long haul, and for now, it doesn’t look like a power forward upgrade is on the way.

Howard is what he is, at this point.  I can’t expect him to drop 35 and 15 on those conference rivals.  But as I mentioned, the development we saw last season was staggering.  He looked like Olajuwon at times, and I mean that seriously.  The footwork rapidly improved and the touch even softened.  Can he keep molding his post-game and sustaining his dominance for longer stretches of the year?  That would be miraculous, and would lengthen the team’s window.  But it’s house money, and I’m not holding my breath.

What Howard gives us right now is more than enough and it puts us in the conversation.  Further skill development would be great, but its not really a priority or something this team needs to win.  All I hope, regarding Dwight Howard, is that he continues recovering from the back surgery and maintains a high level of health.  Without him, there’s no chance.

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Total comments: 9
  • Buckko says 3 weeks ago

    I don't about the mid-range jumper though. Dwight Howard is who he is a shot blocker, post move extraordinaire and that;s about it. Robin Lopez let D12 push him around because the Blazers only had to worry about H & H because they were playing too much one on one basketball. I wish McHale would make his team move the ball a lot! I like Howard but what he did in the playoffs was awesome. Just like you said hopefully he can carry that to next season's playoffs, oh and Harden better be more efficient and not hesitant! #RedNation

    The midrange jumper could be huge, besides the fact it adds to dwight's versatility, and stretching the floor more and adding room for our drivers (harden), it can massively prolong his career like duncan.

  • rockets best fan says 3 weeks ago

    @JG

    I believe D-12's work done with Dream will pay hugedividendas well. I think D-12 has a couple of the moves down it's just having enough confidence to use it in a game. during the year we saw some periodic flashes of Dream-like moves. I think he will expand that this year.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 weeks ago

    This is from a year ago (August 2013)

    I love this next video. Give 6 minutes of your life to this :) (April 2012)

    There are loads of these videos. The mid-range may be a myth....but I believe it's coming. Watching these videos, you can see him slowly integrate the moves into his play.

  • The Duke of Earl. says 3 weeks ago

    I don't about the mid-range jumper though. Dwight Howard is who he is a shot blocker, post move extraordinaire and that;s about it. Robin Lopez let D12 push him around because the Blazers only had to worry about H & H because they were playing too much one on one basketball. I wish McHale would make his team move the ball a lot! I like Howard but what he did in the playoffs was awesome. Just like you said hopefully he can carry that to next season's playoffs, oh and Harden better be more efficient and not hesitant! #RedNation

  • thejohnnygold says 3 weeks ago

    I think this is the year we see Dwight unveil the mid-range jumper. He works on it (as far as I know from training videos with Hakeem on youtube). He has got to unleash it eventually. In the video of him practicing it it looks pretty good. It is basically the Tim Duncan 10-12 ft. bank shot from near the baseline. If he gets that shot down it's a whole new ball game. That...and a pump fake/up-and-under move. If he brings those two things to the table this season we will be.....unbeatable. :o

  • John P says 3 weeks ago

    Agree with Freebird. Getting them to think the same ways all the time, more like the teams who have been together for years, would pay huge dividends.

  • Freebird says 3 weeks ago

    Methinks the single best thing D12 could do is hang out with Harden in the off-season. Try and share some of that professionalism and experience, and perhaps guide Harden into being the player he could aspire to be. Getting them on the same page, extending that chemistry, will help the team more than a few new set plays or whatnot.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 weeks ago Will Dwight be worth the max again if the cap rises to 85-90 mil? Can we afford to be paying him 30+ mil a year? Can we afford not to?
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 weeks ago Great post.

    But I disagree that further development from Dwight is not needed to win. Do we need him to improve to make the playoffs? No. Do we need him to improve to win a championship given the losses of Asik/Parsons/Lin and no upgrade at the PF spot? Yes. So I would ask what is your definition of winning.