Abdul-Jabbar says Howard has “blind spots” in his game

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Dwight Howard is having a phenomenal season. The 25-year old center is scoring 3.3 more points per 40 minutes than he did a year ago, is the key player on one of the five best defenses in the NBA, is still a monster on the boards, and has a decent chance at winning his first MVP award.

However, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still thinks that Howard has some room for improvement. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his upcoming documentary, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer gave an opinion on Howard:

Q: Is there a young center you’d like an opportunity to show a few things to?

A: Dwight Howard. I think I could have shown him a few things that would have helped his game a lot. Such an incredible athlete. There are a few blind spots in his game just because he didn’t stay in school long enough to get all of that down, but just really an incredible athlete.

One of the biggest knocks on Howard throughout his career is that his post game is lacking, but he’s been very effective from the low block this season. Howard may not have a shot as graceful as Kareem’s skyhook or footwork as intricate as Kevin McHale’s, but his ability to use either hand around the basket, nifty running hooks, and improved patience as a passer and touch around the rim have made him one of the league’s most effective post players.

According to Synergy Sports, Howard scores .92 points per post-up possession, which is a great mark for someone who scores down low as much as Howard does — to provide a point of reference, Pau Gasol also scores .92 points per post-up possession.

When a player is a physical specimen like Howard, it’s easy to focus on how good he could be instead of how good he already is. No matter how effective Howard gets in the post, people will always think he could be doing better, because his athletic gifts make him capable of things no other center can do. It’s easy to look at Howard’s power-based post game and horrific free-throw stroke and lament how much more graceful he could be down low, but the truth is that Howard has made himself into one of the most, if not the most, effective post players in the league.

The league’s all-time leading scorer may well have a trick or two up his sleeve that Howard does not have access to, but Howard deserves credit for more than just his athletic prowess.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.