Houston has Kevin McHale as coach and hired Hakeem Olajuwon because they have two quality NBA big men — Dwight Howard and Omer Asik — who both can score but are not exactly polished on the offensive end. Particularly their new anchor, Howard.
Actually, Olajuwon was blunt in assessing Howard that speaking with Rockets.com, saying Howard was “very raw.”
“As good as he is right now, he’s still very raw. But he has all the tools so I’m like a kid in a candy store. That’s why we give him the fundamentals of these moves. There’s a rhythm. And once he sees it, then it’s easier to emulate and then incorporate with power. He has the power. Now we’re adding finesse to the power.
“The best big men in the game – they’re game-changers. That’s what he is. And he’s in the right situation where the coach understands it, he demands it, and Dwight can give it.”
Howard worked out with McHale and Olajuwon this week and the focus was footwork.
But more than that it was about having a plan — when you get the ball in the post have a plan of attack, with counters to go respond to what the defense does. It was the mental aspect Olajuwon focused on, he said.
The mental aspect will be key to Howard — he says he wants McHale and Olajuwon and his teammates to hold him accountable. But he has shown in his last couple stops to be a person he needs a lot of positive reinforcement. How does he handle the inevitable criticism? How does he handle the adversity that will come to him and the Rockets as he does everyone?
Has he matured through the last two seasons and is Houston the setting where he can deal with this better? If so, the Rockets are very dangerous. If not, well, he can’t force his way out of town again.