Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard Better Than Expected

By Phillip Pyle

Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, and has been proving it over the last seven games averaging 23.3 points and 16.7 boards. Howard has 15 double-doubles this season including three 20 rebound games, while leading the league in the category.

He is currently shooting 57 percent from the charity stripe, his best numbers since the 2010-2011 season with the Orlando Magic. The drop in his free throw shooting came in the last season with Orlando thru his time with the Lakers.

Howard had been perfect at the charity stripe only 32 times in his professional career and just once had he done so for this season, knocking down both of his attempts on Nov. 29 against the Brooklyn Nets.

This was only the seventh time that Howard had ever made all of his attempts while taking at least five foul shots, and it’s the first such game since March 8, 2009, back when he was playing with the Orlando Magic. In fact, the only time he’d ever topped this outing was in 2005, when he went 8-of-8 against the Sacramento Kings.

Going into this game, he’d shot exactly seven free throws 35 teams in his career. Only four times had he missed only once, and he’d never made all of them. Until Dec. 13. The Warriors elected not to employ the Hack-A-Howard strategy, which could be due to The Wall Street Journal‘s Jordan Teicher:

While the Hack-a-Howard strategy may work once or twice, opposing coaches who use it repeatedly have faced diminishing returns. Entering Thursday’s play, when Howard attempts 15 on more foul shots in a game, his percentage improves to 59.2 percent. The winning percentage of Howard’s teams also rises from 57.9 percent (356-258) in games when he shoots fewer than 15 foul shots to 61.9 percent (65-50) in games when he takes 15 or more foul shots.

In only 24 games Howard has proven to be worth every effort the Rockets and Daryl Morey employed to bring him to Houston. Until the situation with Omer Asik is resolved, the Rockets will remain in a sort of limbo, with Howard being a main catalyst to the Rockets success.