Dwight Howard: Must fly to new Heights to Win it All
If you follow the National Basketball Association at all, you know his game well by now.
Dwight Howard is a gigantic man-child who has taken the league, and the boards by storm. He can throw down thunderous dunks with aggression not seen since the early days of Shaquille O'Neal, and then jokingly impersonate his coach only moments later.
He rebounds and blocks shots like it's his job, well because it is his job. He then took his defense to a new levels in recent years, winning back to back Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Howard is already at a level in professional ball playing that not many others can/will reach, but for me the nagging question that remains.
"Is this as good as he'll be?"
Maybe I have extreme expectations with some players from time to time, but it would be a shame if this was where Howard peaked. The craziest fact about Howard is all the things that make him a great player are outweighed by all the things he could do to be better.
1. Free Throws
The first thing he needs to start obsessing over is free throws.Howard has averaged only 17.5 points-per-game due to shooting a career 59.9 percent from the stripe.
Could you imagine what his average would be if his charity stripe average was even decent?
I wouldn't expect a center to put up guard numbers in this category, but can you at least shoot for 75 percent for starters? I mean, you do get paid to play this game for a living. Handsomely at that.
And I don't want to hear an argument about him having too big of hands, or being so tall. Anyone with a single arm can learn to shoot a free throw. If he were to get serious with this, his points-per-game average could go up multiple points.
It would also make opponents fear fouling him, instead of embracing it.
2. Post Moves
We've all seen the power dunk he throws down if you let him too deep into the paint, what else do you have for us Dwight?
These days if he catches the ball more than a few feet from the basket, you can expect him to pass back out to the perimeter. He lacks what Lakers PF Pau Gasol seems to have mastered over the last few years, and that's a back to the basket aspect of his game.
With Gasol you have to worry about a number of weapons from a jump-shot, to a running hook, to a beautiful up-and-under move to breeze by his opponents. With Howard you just have to keep him out of throw down distance, or foul him.
Howard needs desperately to advance his one dimensional offensive game, and add a second and third move to his arsenal.
How would teams handle guarding this beast of a player if he could also knock down an open 14 footer? His scoring potential would also leap from solid contributor, to lethal threat.
The third and last change that I believe would take Howard's career to where it should be, would also be the most difficult for him to successfully achieve.
Everyone knows that Howard is a bit of a joker/prankster in his personal life, but in all honesty it has little to no place on the court with him.
Not that players should be fined for smiling or being friendly, but being competitive is the only way to rise in this, or any sport. What separated Michael Jordan, and what separates Kobe Bryant from the pack, is/was their cut-throat attitudes in competition.
Say what you will, but there is no way you can be taking the game too seriously when you are laughing and joking all over the court as Howard does. I don't personally think Howard will ever share Kobe or Michael's unflinching desire to dominate competitors, but he could take a large step in that direction to better his career.
If Howard learned to keep the smiles and jokes to a minimum on the court, and concentrate on dominating the opposition, his game would improve immeasurably.
I make these points not because I'm a Howard hater.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I think he's an amazing player, who has so much more potential just waiting to break out. If Howard were to obsess over the points I made here he would become an unstoppable offensive Juggernaut, a true competitor, and without a doubt an NBA Champion.
The only question is which road will Dwight take?
Will he glide on his size and natural ability?
Or will he instead soar to new heights, and become the legend he is meant to be?
Tune in next season and see his next chapter.
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