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.