Dwight Howard is one of the newest members of the Houston Rockets. This is no longer news to anyone that follows the NBA. However, there are still questions about Howard and the Rockets. How will Dwight gel with James Harden and the rest of his teammates? Will Dwight be more willing to run the pick-and-roll in Houston under Kevin McHale?
For the purpose of speculation, though, let’s assume that McHale gets to Dwight and Howard buys into the system in Houston. Let’s say Howard plays to his strengths this season. What kind of impact can Howard have on this team?
Probably the most obvious thing that Howard will bring to the Rockets, regardless of if he buys in, is his defense. Last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard allowed just 0.74 points per possession, which ranked 20th in the league. He also forced opponents to shoot just 36.7 percent against him. Even though Omer Asik was a solid defensive center last season, there’s no question that Howard is an upgrade for the Rockets’ frontcourt defensively.
Offensively is where Howard could have the biggest impact, though. Last year in L.A., Howard geared his offensive game towards post-up play, which is actually the weakest part of his game. 45.2 percent of his offense came in post-up situations, but he averaged only 0.74 points per possession, good for only 121st in the league. Moreover, he shot only 44.5 percent when he was posted up.
However, whenever Howard actually decided to participate and not rebel against the pick-and-roll, he was absolutely phenomenal. He averaged 1.29 points per possession, the ninth best rate in the league, and shot an unreal 79.6 percent from the field in the pick-and-roll. When paired with ball-handlers like Harden and Jeremy Lin, Dwight could be an unstoppable force in the pick-and-roll.
Howard in the Rockets pick-and-roll could be a weapon that not many defenses in the league can stop. However, that potential success all hinges on how Dwight reacts in this new system that asks him to do something that he basically refused to do while with the Lakers. If he, by some act of God, does buy into Houston’s pick-and-roll, though, the rest of the league should be worried.