Dwight Howard is at least hanging out with Hakeem Olajuwon

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Two weeks ago, Hakeem Olajuwon mentioned during the Eastern Conference Finals that he would be meeting with Dwight Howard over the summer.

It would appear that wasn’t just publicity talk.

Magic blog Orlando Pinstriped Post was the first to catch it. Howard started posting to Twitter about being in Houston, and then posted a photo of himself with The Dream.

Now, if you’re a fan of another Eastern Conference team, just stay calm. There’s no reason to panic.

Okay, there’s a little reason to panic.

Howard’s only true weak point in his game is his lack of a genuine post game. He has a semi-functional driving hook, which is like trying to kick-start that 1978 Volvo in your uncle’s backyard, half the time it just kicks out smoke. He’s got a small turnaround floater, but it mostly looks like an accident. His up-and-under dunk is solid and practiced, but defensible, especially in a series with time to prepare.

Which is what makes Howard’s potential work with Olajuwon (and we have no confirmation they’re working out) so exciting/downright terrifying. He’s already one of the best players in the league, an MVP candidate. Olajuwon is arguably the greatest center of the last 30 years, one of the greatest centers of all time, and the strongest part of his game was his footwork and offensive prowess. The Dream could hurt you in a million different ways, stringing together moves in combinations his opponent couldn’t prepare for.

That may be the best thing Olajuwon can teach Howard. Beyond the actual moves which aren’t that difficult to learn, it’s the ability to improvise to out-maneuver your opponent’s specific skill sets that may of the most value to Howard. Either way, a Dwight Howard with post-moves spells doom for the rest of the league’s frontcourts. The word “unstoppable’ comes to mind.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.