Well, this could get interesting

Last night’s game was unreal.  I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams would have ever imagined Dwight dominating a game in the post in the manner in which he did, against a good opponent.  The argument all along had been that even if he gave nothing in the post, just from his defense, rebounding, and scoring off the pick and roll, Dwight was worth the max.  But if he’s capable of this?  Well, things could get interesting.

Dwight last night, like he did in spurts against Portland and Indiana, decimated Andre Drummond, scoring in a variety of ways.  He went to the sweeping hook across the lane, the baseline spin, the Olajuwon reverse pivot, the backdown and baby hook….aside from the Olajuwon turnaround, he pretty much did it all, displaying a touch much softer than anyone might have expected.

First, it’s clear this is no fluke.  He’s done this now in multiple games, when facing single coverage.  The confidence is building and it is clear the daily work Dwight’s been putting in with Kevin McHale has been paying off.  That shouldn’t come as a surprise – McHale has proven results in the form of Kevin Garnett and Al Jefferson, two other notables whom he extensively mentored.

Right now, Dwight’s biggest problem is double coverage.  Not just double coverage on the ball but the swarms of arms in the paint Hakeem and the TNT guys didn’t have to deal with.  He’ll have to get better at seeing the court because, if he keeps doing this, not too many teams will continue to play him straight up.

Another problem I notice is post positioning.  Dwight almost always sets up near the three point line.  I don’t know if this is due to poor point guard play or Dwight’s own fault.  He undoubtedly has a very weak lower body.  Right now, because he’s catching the ball so far out, he’s having to make multiple dribbles through the lane, leaving him prone to getting stripped by the help defender.  If he could set up closer, he could turn and immediately make his move.

The implications of Dwight’s development are far-reaching.  Apart from the fact that the Rockets won’t be as reliant upon Harden, the team’s window of contention could be longer.  If he continues progressing, Dwight will remain effective even as his athleticism slowly erodes.  He’ll still need the quickness, but it won’t matter as much that he can no longer jump through the roof.

in musings

DwightLife – Chapter 9: Schooling

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. [read more…]

in columns

Dwight Howard has no post game.

That is what has always been said about Howard; if not that, the free throws.  Rockets fans should know this better than anyone else – how many, during the Yao/Howard debates, cited Yao’s jumper, his excellent free throw shooting, and his touch as proof that Yao was superior?  Never mind the fronting problem, or the pick and roll.  When Dwight has been discussed, there is always the “but” coming.

Yeah, he’s good.  Three-time Defensive Players of the Year.  But….

It is one reason why Howard came to Houston.  To learn with two of the most skilled big men to ever play in Olajuwon and McHale.  A sharp contrast to the Lakers, where Kobe Bryant seemed to view Howard as only a more athletic Tyson Chandler.  Many were skeptical that Howard would in fact learn better, and with good reason.

But tonight, right after the most devastating loss of the season, with injuries so bad that one began to wonder whether there would be even five Rockets on the court by the end, Dwight Howard went full Superman and completely willed the team from the beginning to the end.  And this time, there was a post-game.

[read more…]

in game coverage

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