Tag Archives: Howard

Top Ten Centers in the NBA

By: Jon

Although the center position is not at the same level as in the 1990 and early 2000, there are a few up and coming centers that have a lot of skill and potential. Centers are no longer solely play the center position as in the past. Many switch between power forward and center.

1. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Although the “Dwightmare” has ruined Howard’s reputation and has made him look puerile and foolish, Dwight is still by far the best all around center in the league. Although Dwight had a “down” year, Howard posted the best stats among all the centers in the league. Howard led the league in rebounding, 12.4, while averaging 17.1 points, 2.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals. Howard was able to post great numbers although he changed teams and schemes and had to play through a myriad of injuries. The drop in his scoring can be attributed to his fewer shot attempts and minutes. Howard shot a ridiculous 58% from the field because he only shoots from around the paint. If Howard can improve his free throw shooting percentage, 49%, to around 60%, he would score three or four more points per game. Howard has average a double double during every season of his nine year career. Dwight has even completed four seasons where he averaged more than 13.5 rebounds and 20.5 points. Besides for being a solid offensive player because of his athleticism, he is one of the best defensive players of this generation because he is dominant inside the paint. Howard has led the league in rebounds five of the last six seasons and has blocked more than 2 shots per game for each of the last six seasons. Howard led the league in defensive rating three times and defensive win shares four times. Most impressively, Dwight won three straight Defensive Player of the Year Awards and has been elected to four first defensive All-NBA teams.

2. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol

The reigning DPOY has significantly improved during the last few seasons of his career. Marc is one of the most skilled all around players in the league because he can score, pass, rebound, and defend. Gasol recorded the most assists, 4.0, among centers, but he could have tallied many more because he has a great vision of the court like point guards. Gasol only averaged 14.1 points per game last season because he only shot 10.9 times per game. However, he is an efficient shooter from the field, 49%, and a great free throw shooter for a big man, 85%. Last year, he had an all around good year, averaging 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game. Gasol was the main reason why the Grizzlies took the next step and played in their first Western Conference Final. Although Gasol excels on the offensive side of the game, he is a great defensive wizard. He is extremely intelligent, long, lengthy, strong, and knows how to defend the rim without committing silly fouls. Gasol finished top five in both defensive rating and defensive win shares. Gasol is in the middle of his prime and should continue dominating the offensive and defensive side of the floor.

3. Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets

Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez

The offensive minded Brooklyn center is the best offensive center in the league. The All-Star center had a great offensive season for the Brooklyn Nets during their inaugural season. Lopez was able to have a great season, although he only played 5 games the previous season. Over the past three seasons, Lopez showed why he is the best offensive center by averaging more than 19 points per game and shooting over 49%. Last year, Lopez had his best season, averaging 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 52% shooting, and 76% from the free throw line. Lopez has a diverse set of moves including the sweep through which enables him to frequently head to the line to shoot two free throws. Although Lopez is frequently criticized because he does not rebound at a high level, many people do not watch the Nets’ games who are criticizing him. If they watched the game, they would realize that his job is to protect the rim and the power forward position is suppose to grab the rebounds. Although Lopez is slow and does not have great footwork, he is able to make up his mistakes with his length and size. Next year, I predict Lopez to make a leap forward because Garnett will help his defense and his offensive skills should only improve.

4. LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trailblazers

LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge

The former first round pick out of Texas has been one of the best big men in the league since his rookie season in 2006. Although his rookie season was underwhelming, he has significantly improved and has been one of the best scorers down in the post. The 6’11” star has a good set of moves around the basket and a nice jump shot, which makes him nearly impossible to defend. Over the past three seasons, LaMarcus has scored more than 21 points while shooting over 48% from the field. Along with posting great scoring numbers for a big man, Aldridge is a solid rebounder, over 8 rebounds per game. Although Aldridge puts up nice stats, he is not a top fifteen player in the league because he is a horrible defensive player. Aldridge shows little effort on defense, but could be a solid defensive player. He is strong and tall, which should enable him to stay in front and stop opposing offenders. Last season, Aldridge posted some of the worst defensive numbers in his career according to the defensive metrics. Last year, he had a defensive rating of 107 and a win share of 2.3, both are below average. Aldridge looks like he may be the next big star to be traded. Ironically, he wants to be traded to the Bulls, although he was originally drafted by them.

5. Roy Hibbert – Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert

Indiana’s behemoth had a great postseason performance, which catapulted him into my top five centers in the league. Although he has not experienced a lot of success during the regular season, Hibbert has played his best basketball during the post season. During the postseason two years ago, Hibbert was a defensive menace, 11.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Last season, Hibbert became more of a complete player, 17.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. Although he did not block as many shots last season, he altered every shot inside the paint and came away with one of the best blocks all season against Carmelo Anthony in a tight game six. During the regular season, Hibbert has constantly averaged around 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. However, Hibbert should make a significant jump this season in the scoring department. Last season, he shot only 45% from the field, which is horrible for a man who only shoots from inside the paint. During the playoffs, he shot over 51%, which is what I expect him to shot next season. Although his offense will never be great, he will play a long time because he is a great defensive player. Hibbert finished top five in defensive rating, defensive win shares, block percentage, and blocks.

6. DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins

The young 22 year old center for the Kings is one of the most talented, but controversial players in the league. Over the last two seasons, Cousins has posted solid stats and has become one of the powerful center’s in the league. In terms of talent, Cousins may have the most talent among centers in the league. Cousins has the size, strength, and skill to score against any player on offense. Over the last two seasons, Cousins has averaged 17.5 points in only 30.5 minutes per game. His PER 36 minute are even more impressive, 20.7 points. Along with scoring a lot, Cousins is a superb rebounder. In 2012, he recorded 11 rebounds per game and almost recorded another double digit season last year, 9.9 rebounds. Last year, DeMarcus became a more efficient scorer, 44% versus 47%. Although he is extremely talented, Cousins routinely loses focus and his game consequently falters. Cousins’ defense is affected by his lack of effort because he frequently forgets to run back on defense and defend the post. Cousins’ horrible attitude causes the coach to have headaches and negatively affects his teammates. Cousins is unable to maintain his emotions, which causes him to rack up technical fouls and personal fouls. When Cousins learns how to focus and play with intensity, he will be a 20-10 man and a constant All-Star

7. Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls

Although Noah may not be the best player on the Bulls, he is the heart and soul of team and specifically the defense. On offense, Noah has one of the ugliest shots in the game, which makes me cringe every time he shoots. Although his shot is ugly, he is a career 50% shooter and shoots 73% from the free throw line. Noah is a tough player who does not need to shoot often to make an impact on the game. Over the last four seasons, Noah has averaged about 11 points per game. Although he does not score often, he is a good passer and has great vision of the court. Last year he was tied with Marc Gasol for most assists per game for a center, 4.0. Noah makes his money on the defensive side of the court. During his six year career, Noah has averaged at least 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in three different seasons. Last year, Noah had his best defensive year by setting a career high in rebounds, 11.1, blocks, 2.1, steals, 1.2, and defensive win shares, 4.7. Unlike most centers, Noah has the ability to grab rebounds and protect the rim. Noah has great footwork, dedication, and focus, which makes him a terror to compete against. Every team would love to have Noah because he is a proven winner and will make his teammates give their best efforts. Noah is the opposite of Cousins because he does not have the innate ability like DeMarcus, but plays extremely hard and will never give up on his teammates or coach.

8. Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks

Al Horford
Al Horford

Big Al is coming off the best season of his career at the age of 26. Al should continue posting solid statistical years as he continues into his prime. For the first time in his career, Al will be the main option on offense for the Hawks, after the departure of Josh Smith and Joe Johnson. After a subpar 2012 season because of injury, Al averaged a double double for the first time in his career. Horford has been one of the most efficient players among big men. Last year, Horford scored 17.4 points on 14.3 shots while shooting 54% from the field. Along with improving on his offensive numbers, Horford has improved his defensive. When Al entered the league, he was considered a below average defender. However, he has improved his footwork and ability to guard the pick and roll, which has made him a decent defender. Horford should and needs to improve as a player if the Hawks are going to make the playoffs again next season.

9. Chris Bosh – Miami Heat

Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh

The third piece of the ‘Big 3’ has been an extremely inconsistent player during his three years with the Miami Heat. Before signing with the Heat, Bosh was one of the most successful big men in the league, posting three seasons of at least 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. Although he was never the best rebounder, Chris tallied five straight season of at least 22.5 points before signing a max deal with the Heat. Last season, Bosh had his worst year since his rookie season. Bosh posted his second lowest scoring and lowest rebounding average of his career. Bosh’s 12.3 shots per game is the lowest since his rookie season and explains his decrease in scoring output. However, Bosh should be increasing his rebounding totals, since he is the tallest starter and the most adept at rebounding. Although Bosh is scoring fewer points, he had his most efficient season, 54% from the field. Although had a “down” year in terms of offense, Bosh blocked 1.4 shots and stole 0.9 balls per game, both career highs. According to the defensive metrics, Bosh is an average defensive player, although he can be a great rim protector when he active on defense. During the postseason, Bosh was a complete anomaly. Bosh had worse stats in the playoffs than the regular season, 12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 45% shooting percentage. Bosh started to drift outside of the paint and shot about two threes per game. During his career, Bosh averaged about half a three per game.

10. Al Jefferson – Charlotte Hornets

Al Jefferson
Al Jefferson

The newest member of the new named Hornets received a big money deal this offseason because he is a consistent producer. Al has posted consistent scoring and rebounding number since he began starting in his third year. The integral part of the deal that sent Kevin Garnett to the Celtics has been so consistent that it is actually scary. Over the past four seasons, Jefferson has averaged around 18 points, 9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1 steal, and 49% shooting from the field. For a big man, Jefferson has a nice array of inside moves and touch on his jumper. Jefferson will provide the Hornets with a veteran presence that they did not have in previous seasons. Jefferson will allow the Hornets to have a go to scorer during crunch time, when they desperately need a bucket. Although Al has a nice offensive game, he is a not a good defensive player. Jefferson’s deficiencies will be obvious on the Hornets because Cody Zeller is not a good defender either. Last season, Jefferson posted poor defensive stats because he is not the most athletic player and does not give full effort on defense.

pics and stats from espn.com and basketballreference

Why the Howard Signing Won’t Matter

By: Prad

Dwight Howard made a much anticipated decision a couple of weeks ago when deciding to sign with the Houston Rockets for a less lucrative contract over the Lakers, Mavericks, Warriors, and Hawks. But the lingering question remains: will he be able to ever win a championship? To me, the answer is simple: no. Although his critics are not as harsh as LeBron’s were, he is still scrutinized. This is in part to his demeanor and more importantly, whether or not he has the motivation to win a championship.

Courtesy of Sole Collector
Courtesy of Sole Collector

Dwight Howard claims that he chose Houston over his other suitors because it gave him the best chance at winning an NBA title alongside a young budding star in James Harden. His reasoning behind his decision seems logical, but I can’t help but argue with whether or not he will sincerely aid in making the Rockets a contender and help them make a deep run in the playoffs. Howard can only thrive in one situation, where he is the star.

His tenure with the Magic and his time in Los Angeles were both testaments to this belief. For eight years in Orlando, D12 was a top five player in the NBA with nothing but an average supporting cast and no stars alongside him. He was probably the best center, rebounder, and interior defender in the sport, even leading his Magic team to the 2009 NBA Finals. Last year, expectations were high when he was traded to the Lakers, a team with two former MVP’s and definite Hall of Famers in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as well as a potential Hall of Famer in Pau Gasol. This team could not possibly fail, boasting the best starting rotation in the Western Conference and a top two starting lineup in the league. Yet, it inevitably did fail because of Dwight. A first round exit was even fortunate considering the team was not projected to make the playoffs during various points in the regular season.

Throughout the season, critics seem to notice his poor play was accredited to his attitude towards the game and his team. Howard complained about how his skill could not possibly be fully utilized in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Plus, he believed that he could not step in as the future face of the franchise since the city saw one Laker, Kobe Bryant, lead the franchise by himself for the last decade. History seems to repeat itself. Him deciding to go to a team with an already top five scoring leader in the NBA doesn’t seem to be a great decision. His problems that pertain to co-existing with other stars is an issue that can’t be easily resolved. Though it would be exciting to see if he can prove me wrong, that does not seem like it will ever come to fruition.

It appears that those fingers will remain naked forever Courtesy of ESPN
It appears that those fingers will remain naked forever
Courtesy of ESPN

After his decision this offseason, he had an interview with Stephen A. Smith about the reasons for his decision and a reflection on his career. When Stephen A. posed a question about how Howard has not won a championship in his career and some say that he is not considered a “winner”, Dwight  said he considers himself a definite winner. His rationale behind being a winner is “being successful in life” and having the longevity in the NBA that most players don’t possess. He compared his situation to Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing. He said that he labels them as winners despite lacking a championship. Stephen A., however, remarked that they didn’t identify themselves as winners until the very end after they retired. They never lost their “hunger” and gave up on their dreams of winning a championship. This difference is imperative because Howard is already satiated with his legacy and place in the NBA. He doesn’t strive for becoming more of a “winner.”

More of that interview: 

I don’t think anybody is questioning his personal success and how much talent he has. He is a three time Defensive Player of the Year and seven time All-Star to go along with leading the league in blocks and rebounding on multiple occasions. But in this era, that’s unfortunately simply not enough to be considered a winner. By Howard’s logic, LeBron was a “winner” way before he won the elusive title in 2011. Also, longevity is under no circumstance, a true scale to compare Howard to a player that has a three year playing career. Howard is not an “average” NBA player, he is much more because of his rare athleticism in an almost seven foot body. Whenever basketball fans think of winning, they don’t think about personal accomplishments or even winning a gold medal at the Olympics. What they do think of, is that ring to put on a finger or that banner that can be held up high in an arena or meeting President Obama at the White House.

I can’t say that I’m 100% certain that Dwight Howard has reached the zenith of his career, but not much more can be done. A combination of his attitude towards the sport and his low motor definitely attribute to him not reaching his maximum potential. It’s a disappointing realization, but this seems to be reality.

Does the addition of Dwight Howard make Houston a championship contender?

By: Jon

After two years of the “Dwightmare”, sources are reporting that Howard has signed for th max with the Houston Rockets. Only a year ago, many NBA experts thought that the Rockets had almost no chance of landing the prized center. However, a year has gone by and everything has changed in the NBA. Many people believed that Howard’s roller coaster journey had ended three times, when ESPN reported he was traded to the Nets, when he opted in to stay with the Magic, and finally on August 10, 2012, when he was part of a four team deal that sent him to Los Angeles. However, we were all wrong; the roller coaster ride was just taking another curve. After a disastrous season, the Lakers fired their coach after 5 games, Howard was forced to play with back pain, Lakers faced crippling injuries, Kobe never accepted Howard’s playful demeanor, Kobe hurting his Achilles, and finally Howard’s ejection in Game Four of the first round of the NBA playoffs, many experts believed that Howard would not be returning to the Lakers. Although Kobe had the last word and the Lakers could offer $30 million more dollars than the Rockets, the tumultuous situation caused Howard to reevaluate his options and leave Tinseltown. Although Howard does deserve blame because of how he handled the situation, NBA fans should respect him for giving up $30 million dollars and a chance to live in LA because he felt more comfortable in Houston.

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Although the Rockets will have a lot of expectations and talent, they will not be my favorite to win the Western Conference. When Howard is healthy, he is one of the most dominating players this game has to offer. However, his status is uncertain because back injuries do not just heal themselves, especially for big men. Howard was not the same player we saw in Orlando because of the back injury. Although Howard had a great season compared to other centers around the league, 17 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blk, Howard did not have the same quickness or athleticism because of the back injury. Even if Howard returns to full strength, I do not believe that the Rockets will be the top team in the league or the West. Personally, I do not think Houston’s personal will be good enough to lead Howard to his first championship. Besides for James Harden, one of the league’s brightest stars, the Rockets are devoid of star power. Although many people feel that Chandler Parsons will be a star in the league, I do not share the same opinion. The Rockets will be forced to change their style of play, which will affect their supporting cast. The Rocket players were able to put up gaudy numbers because of their “run and gun” offense, which led to a lot of open transition threes and layups. However, the Rockets will no longer be able to play at such a speed because it does not fit Howard’s game. As seen with the Lakers, Dwight is completely ineffective in that style of play. Players, such as Parsons and Lin, will be a lot less effective in their new style of play. Although Parsons will be successful as a three point shooter, Parsons will be unable to put up the same points or assists numbers, which will denigrate his value as a player. Lin will not be the same player, when the Rockets change their style of play. As seen in New York, when the Knicks were forced to play slow, Lin was not as effective as a player because of his disability to go left and separate from defenders. Lin is not a good shooter, which is what the Rockets will need to spread the floor for Howard and Harden.

James Harden
James Harden

I still believe that the Rockets will be fighting for a top 4 position in the West. I would not be surprised if the Rockets finished 4th, however I would be surprised if they finished first ahead of OKC, Grizzlies, and Spurs. OKC beat the Rockets in 6 games, even though they did not have Russell Westbrook. I would choose Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka over Howard, Harden, and Parsons. Houston will face tough battle with the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Spurs in the playoffs. The Rocket players have never won, which could be a major problem during playoff time. The Grizzlies and Spurs would have big men that could defend and neutralize Harden and Howard, Grizzlies: Allen and Gasol and Spurs: Leonard and Duncan. I would take the talent and experience of the Grizzlies and Spurs over the Rockets currently, but things can change.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

However, the Rockets will have a chance of bringing the title back to Houston if they can sign Josh Smith. After reports surfaced that Howard would be signing with the Rockets, Omar Asik stated that he would not play with Howard because they share similar positions. Atlanta does not want Smith back on their team, especially for the salary he is commanding. Atlanta and Rockets have expressed interest in a possible sign and trade. The addition of Smith would give the Rockets with one of the most athletic and dynamic rotation in the league. Although many of their players have never won and their bench would be non existent, there starting five should enable them to reach the NBA Finals. In order to overtake the throne, the Rockets must add veteran free agents, who can come off the bench and provide quality minutes. Especially if the Thunder or Spurs do not add another borderline All-Star, expect the Houston Rockets to come out of the West and face the Heat in an epic final.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Future Lineup:

Lin

Harden

Parsons

Smith

Howard

Stats and pics from ESPN.com