Dwight Howard

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


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.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.