Will Dwight Howard Lead Rockets to a Title?
Dwight Howard spent the first eight seasons of his career playing for the Orland Magic, followed by a one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, Howard has decided to join the Houston Rockets with the hopes of leading the team to championship glory.
While the Rockets managed to snag the biggest name in the free-agent market with a four-year deal worth $88 million,here are a few factors about Howard that could prevent them from winning it all.
Howard Prefers To Be Primary Scoring Option
During the latter part of his time in Orlando, Howard often complained about not getting enough touches late in games. This episode repeated itself in January of this year following a loss to the Chicago Bulls—a game in which he only attempted five shots. While Howard did admit that he was immature for complaining, the main point here is that it should not have been an issue to begin with.
Being that Howard wants to be the guy to lead his team to victory every night, it will be interesting to see how this new relationship with the Rockets will pan out because like it or not, James Harden is still the primary scoring option. This means there will be some nights where Howard will not get a ton of touches and how he deals with that will go a long way in determining if this acquisition is a match made in heaven, or the nightmare from hell.
Limited Offensive Game
When you think of the dominant big men who have played in the NBA, the one thing they had in common was a go-to move that opposing defenses had a difficult time defending. Some of the names that come to mind are Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing—just to name a few.
Although Howard did post averages of 17 points, 12 rebounds and over two blocks per contest last season, his offensive game still leaves a lot to be desired. Oftentimes, Howard is the most talented player on the floor, but it is difficult to determine that from the way he plays.
He does not have an array of moves and his low-post game is average at best. But don’t take my word for it, here are a few comments from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar referring to Howard’s game in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle back in May:
He gets the ball on offense, oh, my god, he doesn’t know what to do. It’s usually a turnover, people come and take the ball from him or tie his arms up. Offensively, he doesn’t get it. Hasn’t made any progress. We (the Lakers when Kareem was an assistant coach) played them in ‘09, and when I saw him this past season, he was the same player.
Being that these comments were not made by someone with a limited perspective of the game, this assessment should be something that Rockets fans keep in mind.
In Orlando, it was management who supposedly failed to provide Howard with enough supporting talent to win a title. During his time in Los Angeles, he clashed with Kobe Bryant with regards to the effort required to become a champion and being held to a higher standard did not go over too well with the talented center.
That being said, Howard has never held himself accountable for his teams’ shortcomings and it is doubtful that will change in Houston. So while some of the analysts are labeling the Rockets as one of the top teams in the Western Conference because of the addition of Howard, I feel this kind of talk is premature and it would be wise for us to wait and see how he responds to adversity before talking about the Rockets being championship-caliber team.