Dwight Howard took a lot of abuse during the NBA Finals. After dominating the slow bigs of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Howard was ineffective offensively for the Magic averaging only 15.4 points per games while shooting under 50% and missing two huge free throws in game four. While much of the criticism from low post legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kevin McHalewas warranted, if Howard never improves his offensive game he’s still a future Hall of Famer.
Howard is the best rebounder since Moses Malone. And don’t say “what about Dennis Rodman” as he used all his energy on rebounding and never had to focus on offense. Defensively, his ability to own the boards with four below average rebounders playing with him and control the paint is unparalleled in today’s game. His speed, jumping ability, and timing may put him in Bill Russell’s class defensively when all is said and done.
Howard, who is often compared to Shaq for obvious reasons, is already a better rebounder and defensive player than Shaq ever was. I don’t think he’ll ever reach Shaq’s status offensively as Shaq has nearly perfect footwork and when he was in his prime the game was called differently. Shaq doesn’t get away with all the charges he used to. Just go back and watch the 2001 NBA Finals and see how many times he elbowed Dikembe Mutombo in the face while going to the basket. Those are charges in today’s game. And yes, I’m a bitter Sixers fan who doesn’t like Shaq (at least on the court). On another Shaq note, never has one player been so fortunate to play with superstars the level of Kobe, LeBron, Dwayne Wade, Penny (when he was actually Penny) Hardaway, and SteveNash. Five teams, five superstars. Just once, I would have liked to witness how he would have done if one of his teams didn’t have a closer.
Getting back to Orlando, they just made the huge trade for Vince Carter and I expect we’ll see a rejuvenated Carter like we did during his firs year and half with the Nets. This takes even more offensive pressure off of Dwight Howard. It seems like the Magic made this trade anticipating that Hedo was a goner in free agency. It’s looking that way and while Carter is a dynamic scorer, I just doubt he can duplicate the unique point forward role that Hedo often played.
Dwight Howard joined ESPN Radio Orlandoto talk about the Carter trade, re-signing Hedo, and what he needs to work on during the summer. When asked about Shaq, he blew the question off and referred to the passing of Michael Jackson.
On Vince Carter:
“He’s been always telling me, “Hey Dwight I want to come play in Orlando, I want to play with you.” Now we have that opportunity and I’m very excited. I think we’re going to see the old Vince and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully it’ll go good.”
On Vince’s reputation for not being a winner:
“People are going to always have their, whatever they’re going to say about players. I think Vince has learned a lot since he’s been in the NBA and I think he’s all about winning a championship. I think he’s excited, he’s ready to go. We’re going to push him and make him the best he can be while he’s here in Orlando and hopefully this can lead to a championship. I believe Vince is one of the most talented 3-mans in the NBA. He has the ability to score, pass shoot – he can do it all so I think we put his skills together and we continue to play as hard as we’ve been playing, the sky is the limit for our team.”
On Hedo Turkoglu:
“I really would love for Hedo to stay, I really do. I believe that we can believe a championship. We came so close and we’re right here. I really want Hedo to stay. He’s been a big part in my development as a player and I hope he stays around. I think that lineup would be great…Hopefully he stays around. He’s been here since I’ve been here so it’s a little bit of a sad day because you’re losing so many people that you basically grew up with, that’s how I look at it. Since I’ve played, I’ve grown up since I was 18 until now and seeing some of those guys leave, it hurts.”
What he plans to improve this offseason:
“The thing is with me, it’s all about confidence and my ability and what I can do. I know everybody hears he doesn’t have a post game, he needs to work on his post game and have a “go to” move. The coaching staff, we talked and it’s tough to go to a move when you’re getting triple teamed and double teamed. What I would tell the fans is keep supporting me. I’m going to keep working on my game like I’ve told my teammates. It’s going to be nonstop. Making my moves a little bit stronger, faster, being able to shoot the ball, which I have the ability to do. Just shoot the ball with confidence, just expand my game. Hopefully next season, after working extremely hard this summer which I plan on doing, I’m looking forward to it.”