Dwight Howard showed a lack of maturity with his comments regarding Coach Van Gundy after game 5's upsetting loss to Boston on Tuesday night. Howard's frustrations have been echoed around the sporting world for the past 48 hours.
Yesterday Howard apologized.
Criticism of your coach is not always inappropriate. What is inappropriate is broadcasting those criticisms to the world before a series clinching game. It is obvious that dissension is growing for Van Gundy among Magic players. We witnessed it with point guard Anthony Johnson earlier in the series. The star player and obvious leader of the team adding his own dissensions only tears apart the cohesion of his team.
The facts regarding Howard show that he is an athletic giants with limitless potential. The facts also show that, at this point in his career, Howard has some obvious holes in his game that can be exploited.
Though the Defensive Player of the Year, Howard has limited options in his offensive game. He has no repertoire with his back to the basket.
Unless Dwight catches the ball with (at least) one foot in the paint, he repeatedly resorts to his sweeping left handed hook which has looked more awkward then ambidextrous in this series.
What's worse is Howard's game facing the basket. Howard cannot shoot the ball 5 feet out. He has absolutely no face up game. He is also averaging 3 turnovers per game in the playoffs.
Free throw shooting? 59% in the regular season, 62% in the playoffs.
The point is, unless Dwight Howard is directly under the basket or catching a lob for a dunk, he is completely ineffective or turning the ball over. How many lob plays can you run in one game?
Dwight is the Defensive Player of the Year and deservedly so with Garnett being injured for much of the season. He is averaging 2.2 blocks per game against Boston. Most of Dwight's blocks are either goal tends or the ball end up in the third row, maybe in spectator Bill Russell's lap.
This type of shot blocking can be intimidating and is exciting for television but I am sure every time Bill Russell observes one of Dwight's blocked shots ending up in the stands he snickers and shakes his head.
Russell always preached that once the intimidation factor has worn off, the truth is that putting the ball in the stands retains possession for the opposing team (in this case his Celtics) and allows them to reset their offense.
Howard complained about not "receiving touches" in game five. A superstar has the ability to command the ball without demanding it. During the 4th quarter of tight games, Dwight Howard seems to fade into the sea of blue jerseys standing around. Again, how many lob plays can a team run in one game? Especially in the final minutes of tight games.
Kendrick Perkin has consistently frustrated Dwight keeping him out of the paint in this series. Putting the ball in his hands, late in the game, with a limited offensive repertoire, with two feet out of the paint, and Perkins defending is offensive suicide.
Running screen rolls for Dwight in the final minutes of tight games would leave Boston the option to foul and put the poor shooting Howard on the free throw line.
Overall, though I do not care for Stan Van Gundy's style of coaching, I would have to say that Dwight Howard is an offensive liability in the 4th Quarter of games.
Dwight, stop publicly bashing your coach and start putting film clips together of Tim Duncan, Kevin McHale and your boy Patrick Ewing.
Soon you will have a lot of time to review that film and realize your potential.