NBA centers — especially old-school ones such as Dwight Howard — are reliant upon guards to get them the ball. Howard can get deep position and a good seal on his man in the post, but if the point guard decides to take a step-back three all that work has gone for nothing.
So it shouldn’t come as a shock that Howard thinks Russell Westbrook should move the ball around more.
“I would say Russ because Russ has the ball more times in his hands,” Howard said. “And I watched Carmelo and Paul George at times, and they were just standing there, watching. Late in the games, I think the ball should have been more in Carmelo’s hands because he’s more of a closer. Paul George, he’s that guy that’s going to get you the 20-30 points between the first and the third quarter.
“Russ, he should just facilitate, get everybody involved early in the game, and just let those guys play. At this point in his career, he’s done everything as far as the individual. He has all the accolades. But now, it should just be about making everyone around him better.”
Three things. First, Howard calling out Westbrook just feels wrong. Even when his point is valid. We’re talking about Dwight Howard preaching what it takes for team success. Let that sink in.
Second, getting the ball in Carmelo Anthony‘s hands more is not a good idea. There was a time that he was one of the game’s best clutch scorers, a guy you wanted with the ball late, but those days have faded. And that’s not even getting into his defense.
Third, what Howard is saying here echoes what a lot of other scouts and executives say about Westbrook — is domination of the ball tends to make the team as a whole stagnant. Certainly, Westbrook gets his assists (he hunts them at points), but he doesn’t get them in a team offensive system of ball movement, the way you see in Golden State or Boston or a number of other teams. That makes OKC a little easier to defend.
I’m sure Paul George has thoughts on all this, and come July 1 we will see what he’s thinking.