Over the last few years, Hakeem Olajuwon has become the go-to instructor for NBA players seeking to improve their low-post games. If a star has wanted to work on his back-to-the-basket moves, his dream is to seek out The Dream.
Since mentoring Emeka Okafor in 2005, Olajuwon has worked with Dwight Howard, Yao Ming, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried and more. As a result, he's pretty much an authority on who needs help in the low post and who has ultimately shown the most impressive improvements.
In an exclusive interview with Nice Kicks (h/t Slam Magazine), Hakeem dished out some praise and tempered criticism:
Of his pupils, the ones who stand out are Kobe and LeBron. Both came ready to work—Kobe after winning a championship and LeBron after losing one to the Dallas Mavericks—and emerged with much more refined post games.
While it took a day for LeBron to become smoother, the MVP still emerged with a nice set of back-to-the-basket moves that he's used to torch the rest of the league. Since working with The Dream in 2011, LeBron has become even more dominant and has yet to lose a championship.
Griffin, Olajuwon says, is undeniably explosive, but he could use a few more moves that allow him to get clean looks at the basket. And as for Durant, he's already an offensive superstar, but Hakeem would like to see him use his height advantageously in the post a little more often.
So, is the big man correct in saying that these two need some work?
Synergy Sports (subscription required) backs him up on one of the two.
During the 2012-13 season, Durant scored 1.04 points per possession in post-up situations. Only six players posted a higher mark thanks to his ability to shoot 51.8 percent and still draw a lot of contact. Work with Hakeem might lead to Durant playing in the post more often—he used post-ups 10.4 percent of the time—but it's hard for him to get more effective.
The same can't be said for Blake, who scored only 0.88 points per possession in the post. Somewhat surprisingly since he has a reputation as a player who struggles on the blocks, that left him ranked 48th in the league. He could definitely still use some improvements and go-to moves other than his devastating spin, though.
Either Durant or Blake learning "The Dream Shake" is a scary thought for the rest of the league.