Dwight Howard’s offensive repertoire has expanded greatly over the past few years — the knock on him as a power only player is gone.
He has developed a Duncanesque midrange bank shot opponents have to respect — the season the Magic went to the finals in 2009 he shot 28 percent from 10 to 15 feet out; this past season he took that shot twice as often and hit 39.7 percent. He has a running hook and a few other moves he can fall back on rather than just bowl you over.
And Howard is going to try and increase that bag of tricks by working out with Hakeem Olajuwon again this summer, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In messages back and forth with some of his Twitter followers, Howard said he’s in Houston working with Olajuwon for the second consecutive summer.
Asked whether he’s working on his outside touch, Howard responded that he is working on becoming “more complete” as a player. When a follower asked what Howard meant, Howard answered: “shooting more” and “freethrows above 75.”
All that would be good, and improving his free throw shooting would be a help at the end of games (he hit 59.6 percent last season). But the problem with the Magic has not been Howard, and if they are to advance it will be more about what GM Otis Smith can do than Howard.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
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.
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.