This past Thursday the Houston Rockets bested the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, televised nation-wide on TNT. The majority of post-game reaction was on James Harden, and Jeremy Lin‘s performance for the Rockets, and Carmelo Anthony‘s’ extreme volume of shots. A somewhat troubling aspect was the play of Dwight Howard, who was defended remarkably well by Andrea Bargnani.
Howard finished the night with 15 boards, but only 7 points on 1-5 shooting, In Howard’s nine year career he has had 30 games where he has played 30 plus minutes and had only 5 or less field goal attempts. In comparison Charles Barkley had this happen only once, Shaquille O’Neal, only twice for their entire careers. This speaks directly to the temperament that Howard has toward the game, and his effectiveness in the post. Inside the NBA “analysts” Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal gave a post-up tutorial aimed at Dwight Howard, and the Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin.
In Howard’s defense he does post-up above the block the majority of the time, but the moves he picked up from Hakeem Olajuwon in the off-season must have slipped his memory. Far too often Howard commits his full effort to the initial move, and seldom uses any counter. Andrea Bargnani has never been known to be a defender of any sort, but was able to disrupt Howard by being long, and simply using Howard’s force against him.
If only post moves, where all that Howard had to contend with, but unfortunately there is also the dreaded free throw line.
n 76 games last season, Howard made 470 of 813 free-throw attempts — 57.8 percent. In 7,900 regular-season attempts in his nine-plus-year career heading into Thursday night’s game against the Knicks, Howard has made 4,559 — 57.7 percent.
“His mechanics aren’t as bad as you think,” assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I told him, ‘You don’t have to change your shot. What you have to do us change your thought process.'”
In addition, by the numbers, Howard isn’t really doing that much better in Houston than he did last season, at least when you compare the numbers of his first 10 games. In his first 10 games last season with the Lakers, Howard racked up 20.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and a monstrous 2.7 blocks as the Lakers compiled a 5-5 record during that time. The Rockets have a better record at Howard’s 10-game mark at 6-4, but his numbers haven’t been quite as strong, the 7-footer netting 17.1 points, and 2.5 blocks, though he is grabbing more rebounds at 14.9 boards thus far.
On Saturday night Howard will stand head and shoulders above defenders as the Denver Nuggets will start 6′,9″ J.J. Hickson. Here’s hoping for Howard at his offensive best.