Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the game’s best big men, and he’s been trying to impart some of his wisdom to a whole host of players over the last few offseasons.
Guys ranging from Amar’e Stoudemire to Kobe Bryant to JaVale McGee have all worked with Olajuwon, and Dwight Howard is the latest project undertaken by the Hall of Fame center who was the Finals MVP twice during back-to-back championship seasons with the Rockets during the 90s.
With so many players having come to him for advice, Olajuwon was asked if there’s a particular player he’d like to work with. While he mentioned Kevin Durant, it was Blake Griffin whom Olajuwon seemed to think could benefit the most from his teachings.
From George Kiel III of Nice Kicks:
“I don’t know that I would like to, but a player that needs [my help] is Blake Griffin. If you look at Blake, he’s very explosive, but he needs the moves that can get him in that position where he can finish. […] So he would be an ideal guy to where, when I watch him play and I see how explosive he is, I’d give him all of these moves to take him to a whole different level.”
Griffin’s game has improved since he came into the NBA, but he often relies on his physicality more than anything else when trying to score from the low block inside. He has shown an ability to have a nice shooting touch, and you could see how using Olajuwon’s help in getting the footwork down on that Dream Shake would be devastating for his defenders to deal with.
[h/t: Lakers Nation]
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.