Five Things Dwight Howard Should Work On to Reach the Finals Again
Dwight Howard is a monster. He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award this past season and has won the Slam Dunk Contest. Not a bad resume for a 23 year old. But he had a chance at an NBA Championship, and he and his team came up short. Here are some suggestions for him going into the off-season to improve upon his game and poise, begin an MVP campaign, and lead his team back to the Finals.
You Are Huge, Keep the Ball High
Dwight is a big man who sometimes negates his height by bringing the ball down, especially on the offensive boards. He loves to flush the ball after he boards it, but he would be better served in traffic to keep the ball high and just put it in the basket. The rim-rocking jam is important for momentum but it's worse to get stripped.
Don't Let Your Mouth Get in the Way
I'm sure it's very frustrating to be a big man and not get the ball when you've screened off your man. But you can't go public and create a rift with your team. This critique isn't specific to Dwight, but he's a young guy trying to deal with budding stardom, and the last thing he needs is to be at odds with the coach. If he's not getting the ball there are plenty of other things he can do besides initiate the offense through the post.
Block the Ball Inbounds
Dwight Howard blocks a lot of shots; he led the league this season with nearly three per game. A lot of them are embarrassing for the guy getting blocked because it gets swatted into the fourth row of the stands. But that doesn't always help the Magic. The ball goes back to the other team. Obviously, the team and crowd get a charge when he humiliates the opponent, but all these players are professionals and have been rejected before. They're prepared to take it right back to the rim and score. If Dwight blocks the ball to teammates, he allows them to get out on the break and perhaps drill a 3 at the other end.
Free Throws: Nuff Said
Free Throws, Charity, Gimmes - not for Dwight. Look, he is big with big hands, and they get in the way. He doesn't shoot the ball, just dunks it, or lays it up, or flips a hook shot at the rim. I've jokingly suggested that he just throw the ball at the board to try and bank it in. He's tall enough that if he just threw it straight ahead it might just bank in. If he misses, the ball would come right back at him for the rebound. Regardless, he's turning into the next Shaq. Instead of "Hack a Shaq," are we gonna have "Swipe at Dwight" where teams foul him when he catches the ball? The only difference is most teams haven't been concerned that he's gonna score the ball from the post.
I love the running hook shot that Dwight's been working on...when it goes in. It's getting better, so I'll give him that. But if he could get that working better and then use a drop step around the defender in the opposite direction, he would have a dunk or foul every time. I've seen him try it before, but he doesn't seal off the defender with his step. Look out though cause he's going to get there. The man has all the physical tools, and with Patrick Ewing teaching him, he will continue to improve and dominate inside.