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.