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Dwight Howard made some amazing post moves last night

Dwight Howard had a monster game last night in Houston’s loss, scoring 32 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.  But the story was how he did it.  With the Blazers opting to play Howard in single coverage, the big man punished Robin Lopez in the post with an assortment of moves so uncharacteristic of his usual self that even TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal was at a loss for criticism at halftime.  This move in particular was sickHoward looked like Hakeem right there.  I’ve been as vocal a critic of Howard’s post abilities as anyone out there, but last night makes you wonder…perhaps there’s hope?

What I’ve noticed in these first 23 games is that Howard actually has all of Hakeem’s moves.  As sacrilegious as that sounds, I’m serious.  Okay, aside from like the faceup crossovers and baseline turnaround fadeaway, he has some of the more basic stuff down (if anything of Hakeem’s can be considered basic).  I’m talking about the reverse pivot spins and that psuedo-Dreamshake move cited above.  And that’s really, really incredible if you think about it.  What he doesn’t have is touch, timing, awareness, and the good fortune of being born in a generation with rules more favorable to big men.  On that latter point–something Howard even himself noted–he’s dealing with way more arms in the paint and more bodies even prior to the catch than Hakeem ever faced (except when the Sonics did it illegally.)  There’s not really much that can be done about that.  As for touch, who knows?  It’s said that it can’t be developed so we’ll just have to wait and see.  But timing and awareness are factors upon which Dwight can improve.  His struggles come primarily against double teams as he struggles to react and pass out.  And it’s said that recognizing double teams is one of the last stages of development for great post players.  So I think there is hope on that front.  Howard for now will need to make his moves quickly before the double arrives.  He won’t always face single coverage like he did last night.  And we’ll have to hope that as he matures, when those doubles arrives, he’ll be able to react better.

We’ll have to file this under “pending.”  I was ready to consider Howard’s post game a lost cause before last night.  There’s still a long way to go.  But this is highly critical for both the player and the team.  Dwight Howard is 28 now and it’s not exactly breaking news that he’s a shell of himself physically; the days when he could just leap over and through defenders are long gone.  But Hakeem dealt with that physical deterioration too.  Let’s hope there is more to what we saw last night.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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