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Hakeem Olajuwon sees Dwight Howard being too patient

Nov 20, 2013, 10:58 AM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets Getty Images

Dwight Howard hasn’t played poorly — he’s averaging 17.2 points a game on 53.6 percent shooting, plus he’s pulling down 13.9 rebounds a game and impacting the defensive end of the floor. The Rockets are off to a good 8-4 start.

But Hakeem Olajuwon is watching from half a world away — he is in Nigeria right now working on launch of “Power Forward,” a youth program involving the NBA that will use basketball to develop health and life skills in the children there.

And Olajuwon sees a lot of missed opportunities, he told Fran Blinebury of

“Dwight has always been athletic and aggressive and he still is. But when I watch him, what I see are opportunities that he is missing. When he gets the ball, he seems to be taking his time to decide what move to make, where he should go.

“There should not be a delay for Dwight. He must be able to make a faster recognition of the situations and react immediately with a go-to move. You must move right away before the defense has a chance to set up. You must be the one making the first move so that you can force the defender to always be the one reacting.

“I thought we were doing a good job with this when we were working together over the summer and at the start of training camp. But what I see now is that when Dwight gets in competition, he has a tendency to go back to all of his old habits. He’s just doing all of the things that he did before. He needs a reminder.”

That pause has been a long running habit of Howard’s (and Blake Griffin and other bigs), when he gets the ball in the post he wants to see what the defense does then start his move. It’s easy to see that and say he is being patient in the post, which certainly is a good thing.

But moving quickly and keeping the defense off-balance is a better thing.

For now Howard is on his own, Olajuwon said he plans to return to Houston in February. And Howard will continue to put up numbers as he is clearly healthier than he was a year ago. But there are other levels for Howard to reach if he and the Rockets want to hoist up Larry O’Brien.

  1. mimaiheatdynasty - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Every great player gets better. LBJ started playing in the post, Kobe started playing closer to the basket, Dwade became a better mid-range shooter, CP3 developed better handles. D12 has to develop…he is till that same guy from Orlando.

  2. asimonetti88 - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Will Dwight get upset again now that Hakeem has said something other than how Dwight’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?

  3. randolphinthepost - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Umm you have to see how the defense is playing before you make your move. Everyone just loves to blame Dwight

    • Anoesis - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      A good offensive player immediately takes what the defense is giving (not set, overloaded to one side, late to rotate, etc.) and forces the defense to play his game. By trying to post up, with limited moves, Howard sacrifices one of his strengths, which is quickness. His offensive game doesn’t seem to have evolved much at all.

    • stuckonwords - Nov 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Wow. You’re actually arguing against Hakeem Olajuwon about how to properly play basketball. You realize that, right? I mean…whatever credentials you think you have, at some point you have to know when to defer to someone with more knowledge and experience, y’know?

  4. eventhorizon04 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    If you’ve ever heard Hakeem talk about the principles of low-post play, he emphasizes the importance of quick decision-making once you receive the ball.

    One of the defensive rule changes since Hakeem played is that nowadays, defenses are allowed to use hybrid man-zone schemes. That means help defenders have less ground to cover if they want to double team a guy in the low post than they did in Hakeem’s day, so making a quick decision is even more crucial than before if the low-post player wants to score instead of passing the ball out to the perimeter.

    One of Dwight’s biggest issues in the low-post is his turnover rate – nearly one in 5 possessions with him in the low-post end with him turning over the ball. With his speed, he should be making his move before help defense can come and try to strip the ball.

  5. azarkhan - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    The Rockets are 1st in rebounds per game and 2nd in points scored per game. With Harden, Lin and Chandler scoring, they don’t need Howard to put up points in order to win (although he is averaging 17 PPG). All Howard has to do is defend and rebound, and the Rockets will be fine.

    • basketballgod87 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      but when playoff he need to up that average

      • basketballgod87 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM


      • bougin89 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        Dwight’s always played like a beast in the playoffs save for last year when he was in a really dysfunctional situation and wasn’t really 100% healthy.

    • Anoesis - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      Except just defending and rebounding isn’t enough for Howard. If he doesn’t get the touches he thinks he deserves his defense and rebounding suffer.

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Everybody needs to get off Dwight’s back for once. He simply isn’t the same guy he was a few years ago. Zach Lowe just wrote about it; physically he isn’t same and probably won’t be again. That doesn’t mean he’s not good, but you won’t see him throwing dudes backwards while flying up for a dunk. Hopefully for the Rockets’ sake he can at least recapture some of his defensive magic.

  7. losanginsight - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    The Dream has seen first hand what D12is all about. Himself. That’s why fans in LA are glad this guy chose to take his topped off talents to Houston. So far the Dream has said she is still raw, basically slow minded, and doesn’t know what to do with the rock. It sounds like his ceiling has been reached. Looks like a first round n out playoff team at best.

  8. snipedanglecelly13 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Hakeem has a strong point, i think that long pause he takes EVERY time he’s in the post gives the d a chance to defend him (even tho he still scores) he can score so much more if he catches them off their guard

  9. mackcarrington - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Let me predict Dwight’s comments:
    “I have a lot of respect for Hakeem, but I’m going to play my game the way I think is best for me.
    I appreciate his help and the things he’s shown me, but he’s not out there on the floor right now.
    I am.”

  10. psung26 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    “But what I see now is that when Dwight gets in competition, he has a tendency to go back to all of his old habits. He’s just doing all of the things that he did before.”

    Story of Dwight’s FT life.

  11. losanginsight - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    What else is new? Every fan in LA and Orlando know what type of player Dwight is and defenses get tougher as the season goes on. The Dream has already said Dwight is still raw, his 10th year in, and more is saying he doesn’t do well under pressure. Hopefully he’s having fun!

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