Dwight Howard's post game is more refined, but still a work in progress through two preseason game.
Even though only two preseason games have passed, Dwight Howard has already begun to impress with his new display of post moves and offensive attacks. Forget the fact that Yao Ming was playing his first game in more than a year, and Howard was hardly his dominant defensive self (although he was still extremely good). In other words, it was a preseason game.
It is hard to draw too much conclusions from the 27 minutes Howard saw Tuesday night in Houston. But in those 27 minutes, Howard managed to make three impressive blocks, two 15-foot jump shots and an array of spin moves and finishes around the rim that have Magic fans salivating.
It had some Houston fans salivating too as Rahat Huq of Red 94 writes: "Yao was obliterated by Dwight Howard when matched head to head, an oddity in the history of their duels. This was probably to be expected due to the recovery, but I also wondered how much of Howard’s success last night came as result of his trainings with the Dream? He always had that spin move – the one he used last night about ten times – but I can’t remember him being able to finish when using it against Yao, before last night."
That is some pretty high praise, even for just a preseason game. And Howard's display impressed more than a few Magic fans.
Dwight's offensive game has been the subject of much debate throughout the summer. Everyone in the league is ready for Howard to make his incredible leap and dominate on both sides of the ball. To do that, Howard worked with Hakeem Olajuwon throughout the summer. Much of the advice The Dream gave Superman was to feel confident in his moves. But video of their workout sessions were released earlier this week and it appears what they worked on went a little bit deeper.
Some of the things they worked on were surely on display Tuesday night in Hidalgo, Texas, as Howard looks to feel more confident with his new offensive game. Howard is still developing his jumper, after all. And we have yet to see him even think about trying that turnaround jump shot he displays in the video above.
Friday's win over Indiana was a lesson in what Howard still struggles with. The Pacers poked and prodded him with fouls and Roy Hibbert's length made things a little more difficult for him in the paint. His post game was clearly not as refined as it looked Tuesday night. Howard's two-for-eight performance was almost as ghastly as his 6-for-14 performance shooting at the free throw line. The Pacers were able to be active and knock the ball away from Howard when he brought it down low or block shots when he brought it up.
My main complaint with Howard has always been his need to go up for the power jam. It has its place. But when he brings the ball down low all the time, it makes it easier for guards to reach in and steal the ball and gives opponents an opportunity to foul him before he can get a shot up. Sometimes simply laying the ball in is a better move.
What we are learning is that Howard's new arsenal is still very much a work in progress. A work that will need to be refined in the remaining preseason games.
But generally you have to like what you see.
You see a Howard who is more patient and waiting for cutters to clear and get to their spots before attacking. You are seeing a guy who is jab stepping and waiting for the defense to show him a weakness instead of simply plowing his way through the lane.
Seems like Howard is still learning when to use his newfound finesse and when to revert to his power. Either that, or he is making himself rely only on his finesse this early in the postseason, knowing the power game is there.
As Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook has pointed out numerous times, Howard's post game is more refined than people give him credit for. But he still has lots to improve on, including maintaining better post position. If he can develop a mid-range jumper that is consistent, maybe what he does to get post position won't be as much of a problem.
It is clear though that Howard's offensive game has expanded. But he is still trying to put it all together.