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Thursday, August 15th, 2013 at 10:20 am  |  82 responses

Hakeem Olajuwon Says Dwight Howard is ‘Still Very Raw’


The Houston Rockets have hired Hall of Famer center Hakeem Olajuwon to mentor Dwight Howard. The Dream says that Dwight, despite going into his 10th year in the League, still has a very long way to go. Per the Rockets’ team website: “This is simply the beginning of a long process that promises to play itself out on a regular basis over the days, weeks, months and years to come. Howard specifically asked Olajuwon and (Kevin) McHale to work with him this week before he departs for Asia on Thursday. Since Dream will soon become an official member of the Rockets organization once more, these workouts will occur every time Olajuwon returns to Houston (he says he’ll next be back in town to work with Howard and Houston’s other bigs during the preseason). And of course McHale will be around every day once training camp begins, giving him ample time to tutor his prized pupil on the finer points of the slippery eel and other low post gadgetry. ‘Having these guys in my backyard and have them pushing me to the limit is just going to make me better,’ said Howard after his 90-minute workout wrapped up. ‘It’s not about emulating Dream. That’s the thing. We get caught up in comparing players, trying to do what this guys does just because you work with him. The thing is, when you workout with a guy like Hakeem or Kevin McHale, you take away certain things. You don’t try to do everything they can do. I could workout with Michael Jordan, but I’m not going to be able to shoot the fadeaway like Michael Jordan. The biggest thing when we’re working out is I’m always watching his feet. Today we were working on spin moves and I was doing a spin move with my left foot in the back and I saw him doing it with his right. So once I caught that, I adjusted. It’s little things like that where you see something and you put your own mix to it – that’s what makes it great.We’ve been working out for years and I’ve never tried to be Hakeem Olajuwon. We made jokes about the Dream shake – he’d call mine the milk shake – but I don’t want to say I’m going to be like Hakeem Olajuwon. The moves we’re doing and how we’re doing them, it’s not about doing it just like Hakeem or doing them just like McHale. It’s about understanding why and how you do certain moves.’ [...] ‘Standing there with Coach McHale, for me as a big guy, it was incredible to listen to what he was teaching and to see the look in his eyes, realizing his basketball IQ and understanding of the game,’ Olajuwon said. ‘I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how lucky (Howard) is to be with two Hall of Famers, adding true value to his development.’ As good as he is right now, he’s still very raw. But he has all the tools so I’m like a kid in a candy store. That’s why we give him the fundamentals of these moves. There’s a rhythm. And once he sees it, then it’s easier to emulate and then incorporate with power. He has the power. Now we’re adding finesse to the power. The best big men in the game – they’re game-changers. That’s what he is. And he’s in the right situation where the coach understands it, he demands it, and Dwight can give it.’”

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  • Ishmael Jenkins

    Some fool will come here, won’t read what Dream said, and say that Howard is done learning as a player and won’t get any better.

  • JibbsIsBallin

    I’d like to see Howard develop in a consistent dominating center in the league. There is really nobody else that is physically gifted as he is in the league in that position. Just a matter of time until he can put it all to use.

  • spit hot fiyah

    sort of like this

  • RKJ92

    “We made jokes about the Dream shake – he’d call mine the milk shake” LOL best line ever.

  • Blarmac

    I’m not a massive Dwight fan or anything, but watching him play with just a little more polish on his footwork would be a lot of fun to watch. And The Dream is the best there is at it.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    I’d just like to see him have better footwork. That would put him leaps and bounds ahead of the other centers in the league. If he’s dominant on both ends of the floor, the Rockets will be dangerous.

  • LP @ThisisEther

    Now to cut down those turnovers….

  • RayJr

    Dwight can work with Hakeem and McHale all he wants but when he gets on the court he will just fall back into his old habits. Good thing he is a freak of nature athlete so he can get away with that. I’ll give Dwight an E for effort though.

  • patrick

    howard sucks imo…he’s still this raw and he is able to practice 40hrs a week to get keeper

  • patrick

    if dhoward was really motivated, he cud have learnt all this stuff on his own by watching video of these players.

  • bike

    Free throws. Just teach him how to shoot free throws and that by itself would be a huge improvement.

  • robb

    lol why do you have so much faith in Dwight?

  • robb

    Kevin Willis 2.0 better takes advantages of the athleticism he’s got left because after that he’s done.

  • JoeMaMa

    Olajuwon and McHale are arguably the 2 most skilled post players to ever play the game. Daily coaching/mentoring from these two will make Dwight EASILY the best player in the game. Either that or he gets injured. I really can’t see a scenario where Dwight isn’t way better as a result of this situation. At the very least, some poetical Houston sports writer will pick/choose quotes from random people that speak to “the evolution of Dwight Howard”. And then I’ll be like, “hey everyone – remember my post X months ago? Yeah – I’m special.”

  • mike

    “Howard specifically asked Olajuwon and (Kevin) McHale to work with him this week before he departs for Asia on Thursday” … Does this mean hes going to Asia? why not just continue training….? Oh ya i forgot whats most important…. $$$$$

  • The Seed

    Howard numbers will be similar to Lakers number and when the Rockets do not do well, please remember Howard choose them. Howard post game is worst than mine and I get double team and I am way shorter than him. Dude just needs to stop watching tv, being a funny man and get in the lab and work, work, work.

  • playa

    And things will stay this way the rest of his career unfortunately,can we please stop talking about youth&potential regarding Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum,they are who they are and as a vets they have close to nothing to fill in as far as their development goes.Andre Drummond is a walking potential as a 19-20 year old, 9 years into the league 27-28 year old Dwight not so much.

  • playa

    Stupid is who stupid does smartass, your faith in Dwight misplaced may be,as would mighty Yoda said.

  • allen3

    with 30 kids from 35 mothers we all knew that howard like it raw

    by the way what the hell are you doin in china while the 2 best post player (skillwise)
    offer you free lesson.
    and where are the paragraphs in this text is it some type of rawness slam want to promote??

  • robb

    Tell that to Ishmael Jenkins. He thinks Dwight’s the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain when in fact he’s more like Kevin Willis, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  • Mojo

    Can’t teach old dog new tricks, by the 10th year in NBA, if u don’t get it. U aren’t going to get it.

  • Toner83

    You could also say that about Slam and their paragraphing skills, or lack of.

  • thanh

    After 9 years in the league and you can’t even shoot free throws. Howard work ethic is horrible.

  • berkamore

    Good question. Almost 10 years in the League and access to Patrick Ewing (Orlando), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lakers) and now Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale in Houston. Those four guys were no joke back in the day.

    Well, he didn’t seem to pick up much from the first two and I don’t think that will change much but hey, who knows? I might be a fool.That’s why they play games. LOL.

  • Busta213

    Oh stop it. He can work out with different people in Asia and resume with the Rockets coaching staff when he returns

  • bike

    I don’t understand how you can call a guy who’s been in the league as long as Dwight has ‘raw’. He’s had ample access to the best trainers and coaches in the business and a plethora of people commenting on his limited post skills for 8 years.

    Maybe ‘slow learner’ might be more appropriate.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    English please.

  • LakeShow

    Howard should still have his best days ahead of him.

    If he matures mentally…

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    Never really had anything to prove until now. His motivation is probably on a level it’s never been before. All eyes are on him. If there’s a time to get focused, learn, and apply what he’s learned, it’s now.

  • Dfrance

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think Dwights post moves are that bad. As a big man, you really only NEED like 3 or 4 SOLID go to post moves. I’ve seen Dwight drop step, pivot, reverse pivot, up and under in the post. I’ve seen him finish hooks with both hands.

    I don’t know why everyone expects him to be Hakeem down there. People need to realize Hakeem is in the minority when it comes to moves in the post. Him and Kevin McHale are the only ones that really stand out in terms of having 50 moves and counters to every move.

    How many “moves” did Pat Ewing have down there? Pat was a borderline finesse center when he learned how to shoot. How many moves did Kareem have? Yes, he had one of the greatest basketball moves of all time, but he wasn’t wheeling and dealing on the block like Hakeem. David Robinson? Shaq? Rik Smits? Alonzo?

    Cut Dwight some slack. The thing I think he really lacks is touch, which is not something that you can really learn. Especially with his short diesel arms.

    Ok I’m done ranting.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    How much of an idiot are you to first mention Dwight Howard and Kevin Willis in the same sentence, and second, to say that I think he’s the second coming of Wilt? I haven’t made one comment that would imply that I think Dwight is the second coming of Wilt. My bottom line is he can still learn and he’s not a finished product if he’s focused. Simple. How that implies that he’s the second coming of Chamberlain…that’s something you pulled from somewhere yourself.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    Tell that to LeBron James who improved his postgame in his 9th season and improved it more in his 10th season.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    Great points. Shaq had 2 moves that he talked about. The move and the counter move. But his strength and unusual quickness for his size were his best assets. Dwight has a hook shot and a spin move with a jump hook, but his athleticism is his best asset. He has to learn how to post up better, improve his footwork and maybe get one more go-to move and he’ll be fine. Why people are acting like every great center in the history of the NBA had like 10 moves in the post is lost on me.

  • robb

    The difference? Lebron is smart

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Lol you said Rik Smits. But no in all seriousness I agree with everything you said top to bottom.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Big if…

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Really the difference is mentality. Both LeBron and Kobe incorporated post moves into their games late in their respected careers. The thing that sets them apart from Howard is that they are dedicated to work on it in practice AND use it consistantly in a game.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    You said the key word “focused”.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    That alone would up his scoring average by at least 4-6 points.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    It’s not the same as having the person you’re watching actually work with you in person.

  • Dfrance

    Lol, Rik got buckets in the 90s!

  • playa

    Sorry i speak only yodish

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Lol he did though!

  • LakeShow

    HUGE

  • playa

    It’s not a necessity to have 15687434 moves in the post,it’s rather how effective your few used most are.And as a HUGE D-Rob slurper i have to say that he had a very good,polished post game + his midrange was excellent for 7 footer.Dwight will never be 1/2 of what good ol’ Dave was offensively……

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck4KXAydlkE

  • robb

    First of all I’m gonna clarify this: I’m talking about offense because that’s what the Dream is teaching him: offensive moves.

    Now, I used Wilt as an example of greatness, because you obviously think Dwight is great. I don’t. And I said K. Willis because of his size, his strength, his inside game and his watermelon head. It’s a compliment actually because he had better moves under the basket and was a 71.3% FT shooter

    Had Dwight played during the 80′s and 90′s he would have been like KW if lucky. Ewing, Robinson, Shaq, would have destroyed him, and Hakeem would’ve embarrassed him every single time.

    Watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igsb0_YdlJI

    That’s Dwight

  • danpowers

    couldnt agree more. on the other hand: some of the criticism is about how howard performs the moves he has – which he does pretty raw / robot like at times compared to the guys we saw in the golden age of centers. that works perfectly well as long as he is healthy. it just leaves one wondering how much more dominant / better he could be, if he had a more polished offensive repertoire.

  • robb

    Everything that has to do with using his brain is a problem for Dwight, whether it’s his intelligence, mentality, maturity whatever. His brain needs to cooperate. Big task.

  • robb

    UNSURMOUNTABLE

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Agreed. Some guys just don’t get it BUT I reserve that statement for another time. I will give him a chance to settle in Houston first before I label him as such.

  • pposse

    Dwights go to move is a left handed hook which is silly to begin with..and like you mentioned, he has zero touch! The flack he gets for his offensive game is well warranted.

  • robb

    His moves are robotic and predictable. It’s not about the quantity it’s about the execution and his execution is poor IMO he gets away with it because of his physical ability. His skills are terrible.

  • Dfrance

    He lacks instinct down there. Before he catches he already knows what move he’s gonna do, instead of reacting to how the defense is playing him. Again, not really something that can be taught in a summer. That comes from years of playing against different defenses and using these moves and seeing what works against what.

  • robb

    And that’s the right thing to do. You’re a prudent guy. Unfortunately when it comes to Dwight I can’t do that lol.

  • robb

    well, he’s saying ‘The thing I think he really lacks is touch, which is not something that you can really learn. Especially with his short diesel arms’

    See? basically he’s saying what he lacks can’t be learned.

  • Clos1881

    Kevin mchale and Hakeem will be great for Dwight and respect his willingness to learn and be taught.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Lol I don’t blame you man. It still stings that he left us so it’s hard for me too be so rational.

  • pposse

    wouldn’t say Lebron improved so much as he ADDED a post game in the 9th season. He was more into attacking the bucket in his earlier years as all young guards and small forwards do. They all seem to take the MJ approach …attack relentlessly when you are young and as you get older evolve and develop a post game.

    Dwight is a different story. His game should have been built around post ups from the get go because of his size. If he doesn’t get it by now then good luck to him. SVG did a disservice to him in a way with all the three pt heroes he surrounded DH with in his years in Orlando. Good strategy maybe for the team but horrible development for DH..unless you’re content with him being a put back specialist.

  • danpowers

    true that. people also tend to forget that olajuwon – the master and inventor of all post moves and everything in the universe of the nba paint – didnt have his “dream shake” when he came into the league and also needed quite some years for the development you stated.
    he was a class above howard tho

  • Evan Boland

    His moves are awful. The defender can easily anticipate and strip him. I cringed every time the ball found its way to him in the post. He has two moves. Baseline spin which rarely works, and running hook in the point which he rarely connects on. He needs to stick to what he does best. He’s not a back to the basket player. Hasn’t he already trained with Hakeem?

  • Evan Boland

    Howard is already entering his 10th season though.

  • Evan Boland

    I doubt he will ever perform better than he did from 08-12 with ORL.

  • Evan Boland

    But Lebron has been improving his game since he entered the L. Howard hasn’t.

  • danpowers

    olajuwon was around 30 when he started to dreamshake the sh*t out of the league.i dont expect howard to become anything close to that as he is a totally different kind of center anyway. but he could very well become a better version of hisself within the next 2 seasons or so

  • robb

    In fact I never really liked Howard, even before he played for the Lakers I just couldn’t stand the guy. Needless to say, my dislike for him has nothing but grown now that he’s left lol.

    Actually the way he left didn’t bother me that much, I thought it was understandable and seemed like the right decision for him, I just hated the way Buss and Co. handled the matter you know?

    That #stayd12 thing really bothered me. I was like: why are the Lakers begging? that’s not the way I felt. If he wants to leave, then leave, this team doesn’t beg, the Lakers are better than that. Now I come here and I see all these articles and can’t help but to get pissed. All the ‘he said, he did, he’s training’ it bothers me.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Haha there we go now we’re getting to the root of it all. Yea I hated the way the organization handled the matter and it came off as pathetic.

  • confused

    How can you have 30 kids from 35 mothers? Did 2 mothers give birth to the same kid?

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    I agree. It’s funny how a guy who has NEVER shot under 52% in his entire career and who has a career fg% of 57.7 desperately needs to work on this and that in the post.

    Could his footwork and postmoves improve? Definitely. But this man has averaged 18+ points on ELEVEN shots per game for his career. People on this site act like he’s a poor man’s Kendrick Perkins or something.

  • robb

    That’s what I’m afraid of. Dr. Buss was a synonym of greatness, success and fun, and in consequence the Lakers were also considered great, successful and fun. Jim Buss? to me he’s untalented, incompetent and pathetic. I don’t want the Lakers to have those characteristics, but the hiring of D’Antoni over PJ, that #stayd12 stuff, the way Jim Buss is talking about Dwight, are definitely a bad sign.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Without a doubt. Things are definitely not looking promising for us in the near future if they continue like this.

  • Dfrance

    How does he average 20 points if his moves rarely connect? How does he shoot over 50% is his moves rarely work? He’s not getting 10 dunks and layups every game.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t need to improve, but his “lack of post moves” are overstated.

  • robb

    you sound…confused

  • Dfrance

    Not saying he shouldn’t get any flack, but I believe he gets too much flack.

  • Dfrance

    I don’t think they’re terrible at all. He can improve his footwork and feel in the post, I agree. But I wouldn’t call him terrible.

  • robb

    OK let’s call them terribly unpolished

  • Dfrance

    Lol.

  • allen3

    come on I was just making fun of dh12

  • robb

    I know. I was replying to confused. You confused him even more

  • Evan Boland

    Offensive boards, clearing space and dunking, alley-oops, pick and rolls, and anything else where he only has the ball in his hand for a second before going up for it.

  • Superdaimos

    Bingo….. as much as i want to believe Howard will improve, i dont think he will be a dominant offensive player…

    he’s been 10 years in the league…
    instincts, reacting to the defense, feel for the game, and letting the game come to you…
    these are things “you cannot teach but learn for yourself”…
    when you do these things, you dominate the game…
    it’s like common sense….

    like you said, when he catches the ball he “thinks of the move he is going to make”… fine.. but then after making or attempting said move, you have to “react and instinctively” read the defense and adjust accordingly….

    now, having said this, i’m not sure how he can be so effective on defense and anticipate plays and block shots…
    he reads and reacts to the offensive players…
    now if he can only apply his defensive mentality on offense!!!!

  • Superdaimos

    yes, he learned how to flop… ;)

  • Superdaimos

    my 2 cents…
    he doesn’t need any more moves….

    he needs to improve on how he “uses” what moves he has….
    make the moves count…
    yes, he looks like a robot down the post because he is a “robot”…
    he catches the ball and in his mind he already has a move he wants to do…
    hence, he looks “predictable and easy to defend”…

    instead, he has to improve on his feel for the game, where he wants to be on the paint, he needs to make the defense react to him…and not react to the defense…
    let the game come to him….
    it’s more instincts and feel more than anything else..
    right now he is just a player going thru his moves down the paint… as oppose to a player makin moves and making plays for himself…

    if he can anticipate plays and moves by offensive players on the defensive side of the court and block shots, he needs to apply the same mentality on defense to offense…

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