Magic's Howard emulating Shaq with post excellence
Posted: Tuesday November 14, 2006 12:39PM; Updated: Tuesday November 14, 2006 3:32PM
Unlike Kevin Garnett (right), who scores often on the perimeter, Dwight Howard gets most of his points in the paint.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
BOSTON -- People see Dwight Howard's Frankensteinian shoulders and his fashion-waif waist. They see the sculpted "V" of his upper body, and that in turn leads to comparisons with David Robinson.
So is he the second coming of the Admiral?
"No, no, no,'' scolds 34-year-old Grant Hill, Howard's elder teammate on the Orlando Magic. "David was a 7-foot small forward, he was finesse, he was quick, he could run the court and run down guards. Dwight is more methodical. Dwight is a power player. I mean, he's 20 years old and look at his body.''
But that's what is causing the confusion. It looks like David Robinson's body.
"People might say it's crazy,'' Hill counters, "but I think about Shaq.''
Shaq is at least two inches and five stone (that's 70 pounds, for non-Anglophiles) bigger than Howard.
"But when Shaq was 20 at LSU, he was pretty explosive,'' Hill says. "I remember playing against him twice, I remember him having a field day against Arizona down at LSU one game and just dunking everything. Of course we see him now and we forget where he was in the early '90s. Dwight reminds me a lot of a young Shaq.''
That works for me. Until somebody comes up with a better argument, mark Howard as the next generation of Shaquille O'Neal. And don't take it as a red flag that he isn't quite as tall or imposing physically; it just means that Howard is suited to exploit the more fluid style of the coming era.
Most of the talented young giants come into the NBA aiming to follow Kevin Garnett out near the three-point line, and more power to them. Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire -- if he ever regains his legs -- have developed perimeter games that make them dangerous from every spot on the floor. Even Yao Ming can step out and hit a face-up jumper, making it look as easy as a grown-up shooting on the Nerf hoop in his little son's bedroom.
In the unique case of Howard, however, it's a blessing that he doesn't have three-point range. He is now in his third NBA season of concentrating exclusively on the low-post way of life that Shaq has long predicted would retire with him.
"I think part of Dwight wanted to be the finesse, KG-type of player at first,'' Hill says. "A lot of young big guys are multitalented in the sense that they go out on the perimeter and shoot jumpers. But this guy goes in the paint, he bangs in the paint, he loves to rebound, loves to get physical. He's a throwback in the sense that I don't see anybody 25 to 26 years old or younger who's as powerful, as explosive.''
No one is complaining about the lack of a perimeter game. Three weeks before his 21st birthday, Howard was leading the NBA in rebounding (12.9 per game) while ranking sixth in field-goal accuracy (60.3 percent) and tied for fourth in blocks (2.3), with the last stat representing an ominous improvement in his game from last year.
"One thing that coach [Brian] Hill talked to me a lot about is that if I'm out shooting jump shots, who's going to rebound? Who's going to be down low?'' Howard says. "We have the guys to shoot jump shots. He says, 'If you're down in the paint dominating, that's what we need, that's what's going to help us win.' ''