The talk of the league is the center position, and we can actually appreciate post moves again.
Flash back a month ago, when the state of the NBA center was in a worse place than Amanda Bynes‘ career. The league had gone small ball and stretch fours and pick and roll centers were all the talk of a league dominated by unprecedented small forwards. Hello guys who compliment LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant; goodbye to the archaic remnants of Patrick Ewing’s and Shaquile O’Neal’s post play that seemed like it happened in the archaic age, not a mere decade ago.
Flash forward to the Eastern Conference Finals. A Georgetown center is dominating the paint like it is 1997, and the best player on the planet is in a dogfight for not only his third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals but his own legacy. Roy Hibbert has been the only kryptonite that the super LeBron James cannot handle. Throughout the series, the 7’2″ center has averaged 22.8 points and 12 rebounds per game. He is making the Heat nation sweat and Heat haters rejoice. The person whose grin is the widest right now happens to be Dwight Howard.
Yes, the guy whose last memorable moment on the court was getting ejected from the Los Angeles Lakers‘ last game of the season now may be the only person on the planet who can stop Roy Hibbert. The way Hibbert has toyed with smaller defenders has been the way Howard has made Hibbert his personal pinata throughout their respective careers. In 17 games played between the two, Hibbert has only outscored Howard once averaging only 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds against his nemesis. Howard’s combination of strength, quickness and athleticism present a problem Hibbert just can’t seem to overcome.
Which makes you wonder what teams like the Atlanta Hawks that already have a solid nucleus in Al Horford and Jeff Teague would pay to possess a player who totally negates the best player of the team that eliminated them? Could the Dallas Mavericks, who already won a championship with stellar coaching and a bonafide rim protector, go all out to get Dirk Nowitzki the ultimate defensive weapon? What would the Philadelphia 76ers, who already have a good point guard in Jrue Holliday, pay if they could flip Andrew Bynum for Howard?
Dwight Howard was already going to be the most sought after free agent heading into this offseason. His antics and lack of leadership with the Lakers made us forget that he was the last true dominant big man, but thankfully for him another center took the mantle and made us appreciate him again.