Jan 24, 2011, 11:17 AM EDT
There has been a real growth in the variety of Dwight Howard’s post game the past two years. Nobody is going to confuse him with Pau Gasol — for a few reasons — but Howard is not all power moves and dunks now. He has a little running hook down the lane and has a respectable face up jumper from 10-12 feet (often using the Tim Duncan bank method).
Howard worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon for three days last summer, learning moves and counters from the master. Saturday the teacher came to see his pupil play in Houston, and told the Orlando Sentinel he liked what he saw.
“He can do so much more,” Olajuwon said before he spoke with Howard in the Magic’s locker room. “It’s so easy. You can see the potential that he can do so much more. Unbelievable…
“You see all the moves that we worked on, the steps and the recognition of what they’re giving him. He had 22 points, but he could easily get 30 or 35 easily. I saw opportunities that were just missed. With time, it’ll just get better.”
Stan Van Gundy would like a little credit for the improvement, too. And Howard should get credit for getting in the gym and doing the hard work of repetition to make the moves smooth.
But sometimes hearing a lesson — even a lesson you’ve heard before — from a new and respected voice can make it really register. Howard has said those sessions gave him a confidence to use those moves more.
Frankly there is plenty of credit to go around, especially if this newfound offensive game translates into more playoff wins. And Olajuwon is right, it all could get better, too.