Friday, May 20, 2011
Any Chance Dwight & Hakeem Can Combine Forces Again This Summer?
The results are in, and yeah, Hakeem 'The Dream' Olajuwon is a big reason why Dwight 'Superman' Howard had his best NBA season to date. Dwight's 7th season officially put to rest anyone who doubted his offensive capabilities. There's a good chance that Howard will increase on that 22.9 points per game come the 2011-2012 season. He was able to do it while not sacrificing his defensive intensity or numbers (See his 3rd straight Defensive Player of the Year).
Statistically, it's very difficult not to compare the two in their league dominance. Hakeem's 7th season came in 1990-1991. Throw out the free throw percentages (Dream- 76.9% v. Dwight- 59.6%) and the numbers are quite close. Dream shot a lot more jumpers in his career, so his field goal percentage of 50.8% looks mediocre compared to Howard's 59.3% in '10-'11. Everything else trends together.
Hakeem was able to play 18 years in this league, about 14 of those at a superstar/All-Star level. Obviously, Dream wins in the hardware department at this time. Olajuwon has his regular season and NBA Finals MVP awards, along with 2 back-to-back championship rings. Olajuwon also did it against the golden age of centers. Dream faced some of the best in Shaq, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing. Overall, Hakeem got the best of them.
The fact that Dwight came into the league 3 full years younger than Hakeem will help Howard in possibly cracking 20 seasons. He's also in a guard-dominated age of the game so his center competition has been few and far between. It would help if guys like Yao Ming, Greg Oden, and Andrew Bynum could stay healthy. Of course, Dwight has to continue staying healthy himself (and obviously win and accumulate awards and trophies) if he wants to continue his path of being recognized as one of the best big men in league history.
We've seen guys out of high school burn out quickly before (*cough* McGrady *cough*). Then again, Dwight is one physical freak of nature with shoulders that have literally hoisted this Magic franchise.
Most Magic fans have a reason to gripe about what Orlando assistant Patrick Ewing actually does with Dwight. Dwight had the fortune earlier in his career of having Clifford Ray show him the ropes, who would then mentor Kendrick Perkins and become a big reason why the Celtics won the championship a few years ago.
We can't really critique Ewing's coaching ability since we're not in the gym and locker room with them. It's no secret, Patrick has been wanting to become a Head Coach for years now, but no one seems to want to bite on even flirting with that chance. I see that as a red flag and it somewhat validates Chewing's critics.
Considering how fragile Dwight Howard's situation is when it comes to his impending free agency, I'd be curious what it would take to have Hakeem become a Magic assistant, or at least be Dwight's private coach.
For now though, all Dwight can do is continue his usual summer pattern of relaxation, excruciating hard practices and workouts, NBA league event and charity participation, and hopefully keep trying to improve on his free throws. Maybe we'll see the addition of a 3-point shot? Hopefully he can recruit some better players to Orlando, but that's all on the front office in the end.