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Rockets GM says team will experiment with Dwight Howard at power forward alongside Omer Asik at center

Aug 16, 2013, 5:41 PM EDT

dwight asik Getty Images

The Rockets have plenty of talent on the roster now that Dwight Howard is in place, so it makes sense that they’d experiment with their new toy as much as possible to find the most productive ways to utilize one of the best big men in the game.

It was thought by many initially that Omer Asik would be relegated to coming off the bench after the team secured Howard, because Dwight would seem to be best-suited to playing the center position. Asik certainly assumed as much, and initially was reported to want out of Houston shortly after Howard was acquired.

Howard’s skill set on both ends of the floor — protecting the rim and rebounding defensively, while working out of the post on offense — would suggest that he wouldn’t be as effective in a big lineup trying to defend power forwards, especially those who would be capable of playing the stretch-four position.

But especially in the early stages of training camp or the preseason, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

From Rockets GM Daryl Morey, via Reddit:

Q: Daryl, how does Omer feel now about sharing the center position with Dwight? What sorts of conversations have McHale and you had in regards to potential concerns from both Omer and Dwight?

A: Omer would prefer to be a starter and is certainly a starter+ quality player. That said, he is a winner first & likes being on a winning team.

Q: Also, what are the chances we see Asik getting minutes as a power forward?

A: Coach McHale plans to experiment with Dwight at PF and Omer as C in training camp. If it works and helps us win, obviously we would look at using it.

There are very few teams (and lineups) that this pairing would seem to be beneficial against. But when you have a talent like Howard in place, it’s worth pursuing even the most unlikely of options.

  1. thekingdave - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Asik’s gone by the trading deadline

    • kb2408 - Aug 16, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      And that would be a dumb decision. What happens if Dwight’s back or shoulder issues flair up again? Who would play center then? What about when Dwight committs two bone-headed fouls in the first quarter, as he’s prone to do, and has to go to the bench? Asik is a quaity big man that Houston just might need to hold on to…unless they get an offer they simply can’t refuse.

      • moseskkim - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM

        If its for a combo c/pf then u trade. But u have to experiment with this because u can’t have asik play only 10 minutes a game. U either trade him, play Howard at pf for stretches. They have no pfs. But having 2 quality centers is a luxury.

  2. bendover09 - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    ” Laugh out loud “

  3. qpoiu1 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    won’t work, it’s just that simple

  4. losangelesfan - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    That worked out real well last year. Somewhere, Pau Gasol is laughing.

  5. saint1997 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Trade him for Ryan Anderson, because without his floor spacing I struggle to see this team winning a championship. Dwight needs room to post up and Harden needs his slashing lanes

    • rohlo - Aug 18, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      not really sure if ryan anderson’s head is gonna be there in the game this year.. his girlfriend committed suicide and he was the one that found her ..

  6. dls612 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Howard is a rebounder and defender he will clean up around the basket when the opportunity presents its self! He’s not basketball savi enough for the forward position! For crying out loud he’s not even a true center!

  7. kb2408 - Aug 16, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Man, I can not wait to see the look on ol’ smiling Dwight’s mug when they tell the NBA’s best center (allegedly) to slide over and let Asik man the post. The fact that they’re even considering this speaks volumes.

  8. chicagofan - Aug 16, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    The problem for the Rockets is that Howard shot 49% from free throw line and Asik is a 52%career free throw shooter. Defensively they will be dynamite but on Offense –I would foul them all game rather than give them any dunks of layups. Doubt this will work for that reason alone.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      He said experiment. It certainly would be formidable in spells.

      • imakcds - Aug 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        you don’t know that it would be ‘formidable’, they havn’t run any experiments yet.
        That’s why it’s an ‘experiment’.

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      well you would lose every game if you fouled them all the time. That changes their offense to one that shoots 50% every single trip down the floor and commits 0 turnovers, while everyone on your bench fouls out.

      • casualcommenter - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:45 PM

        I think James Harden would really enjoy his team being put into the bonus at the start of every quarter via intentional fouls in “chicagofan’s” strategy, haha.

  9. patfic15 - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    D12’s vagina is probably in knots over hearing this idea.

  10. noirad - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Coach Pop will have fun with this line up! Hack a Dwight and hack a Asik! Hahaha

  11. Chad Bartel - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Yeah, cuz that seems to work out so well. If you are a Center….PLAY CENTER.

    Power Forwards are meant to be clutch scorers with a mid range game.. Does that sound like Dwight Howard.

    Reminds me Amare Stoudamire being used as a PF. Didn’t work. He never manned up as a true center and didn’t have the all around game to play as a potent Four.

    Dwight needs to learn some post skills and develop some touch. Until then he’s just an underachieving freak of nature that is bleeding payroll from another franchise.

  12. casualcommenter - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    For Asik + Howard to work, at least one of them needs to be able to operate in the highpost/elbow area.

    Think of how Marc Gasol complements Zach Randolph’s game by having a solid mid-range shots and being an excellent facilitator at the elbow – when neither person in the front court has to be guarded further than 5 feet from the basket, the double teams into the low-post will be constant and unrelenting.

    • badintent - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:18 AM

      oh yeah, and Marc and Zach shoot better FG %.Like Hakeem said this week, Howard is raw. No jumper, no free throws, no sh8t.

      • badintent - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:19 AM

        better FT %

  13. arliepro - Aug 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Gonna be fascinating to see how this plays out in training camp, though I just can’t envision either of them as 4’s and don’t think this will be a viable option.

  14. 00maltliquor - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Didn’t Dwight Howard come into the league as a PF anyways? I’m pretty sure he did.

    • lhollis74 - Aug 18, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Malt, you’re absolutely right, they intended him to play the 4 cuz he’s really only 6’10. Defensively he’s not quick footed enough to gaurd prolific 4’s in the nba and his game offensively is that of a center. In the nba your position is the one that you can guard( i.e. Blake griffin would be great at small forward offensively, but he can’t guard any other small forwards).

  15. losanginsight - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    Seems like D12 signed up to be a stretch 4 in h town… Hope he’s practicing a fade away J. Teams are going to have fun hacking both these guys and slowing games down.

  16. dylude - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Gasol / Randolph – Grizzlies
    Jordan / Griffin – Clippers
    Duncan / Splitter – Spurs
    Perkins / Ibaka – Thunder
    Kaman / Gasol – Lakers
    Smith / Davis – Pelicans

    The last paragraph of this article is fallacious. Half of the top western conference teams have power forwards that Dwight can guard. I’m not worried about Blake Griffin stepping out beyond the free throw line, let alone the 3 point line.

    Do some research.

    • Kurt Helin - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      The Pelicans will go with Davis/Anderson and both can step out. The Lakers will move Gasol to the five and go small. The Thunder do the same with Perkins. The Spurs spent the finals with Splitter playing less and Duncan at the five. I could go on but you get the idea, teams will make Houston adjust.

  17. dylude - Aug 17, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Lakers, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Thunder all have lineups where Asik & Howard can guard the big men.

    This was a terribly written article. Half of the Western conference contenders have no -stretch fours. Does this guy know basketball?

  18. imakcds - Aug 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Dwight couldn’t/wouldn’t play alongside one of the most skilled, most intelligent, most team oriented, team wins first big men ever to play in Pau Gasol, what makes Houston fans think he’ll make room for err…what’s his name?

  19. detroitmike0 - Aug 17, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    This has to be the first non- pistons article that talks about court spacing. Never seen so much discussion on this topic.

  20. lhollis74 - Aug 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I don’t think it will be too long before we hear Howard say ” no, what happened in LA has nothing to do with what is going right now here in Houston”, lol! Which will be untrue cuz it will be what Howard is willing to do vs. what his team needs from him. i.e. pick and roll play,lol.

    For some reason I keep thinking about the Seattle Seahawks and how they realized that even though they paid a lot of money to one qb, intending for him to be the starter, the team does better with the second qb on the field.

    They will have to trade Asik to avoid drama, even if it diminishes the team a little bit. And that should tell you all you need to know about Howard!

  21. cspence4364 - Aug 18, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    It’s quite simple. Last year, Asik and Howard took a combined 63 shots from 10 feet and out. They made only 17 of them. Neither of these guys is even a threat to stretch the floor. How many great teams in the league have two big men who can’t shoot?

    The NBA is turning into a shooter’s league, even with big men. No contenders have both starting big men incapable of making a mid range shot. Miami has Bosh and Haslem, San Antonio has Duncan, Indiana has West and Hibbert, Chicago has Boozer and (while he isn’t great from range, he still takes them) Noah, OKC has Ibaka, Brooklyn has Lopez and Garnett. All of these teams have the ability to stretch the floor with at least one of their big men.

    There’s no doubt that they’d be great protecting the rim, but the limited offensive ability and versatility would be devastating. They would also clog the lane for Harden. Neither player is great in the low post either.

  22. jimispackers - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    This is a brilliant idea if they want to control the tempo of the game and deny any points in the paint. I would seriously consider this the best idea of the offseason if the Rockets coaching staff can figure a way to utilize this lineup only in big (important) game to avoid logging big minutes in the playoffs. As a Bulls fan, I would like to see Asik in the playoffs with a shot at the title but i would hate to meet them in the Finals.
    Love Jimi

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