By Yusuf Gadlin
If the Houston Rockets are going to take off this season in the rough and rugged Western Conference, it’s only because James Harden and Dwight Howard close their mouths and actually perform to their capabilities.
That means Harden, the self-proclaimed best basketball player in the world, must bring more than his left hand to the hardwood this season. James better bring the defense! And, he had better bring accountability if the Rockets even want to dream about a championship this year. The 25-year-old plays no defense. He refuses to dig deep and challenge himself to stop the opposition. His mentality is to outscore his opponent which he does with ease averaging 25.4 points last year, and will definitely surpass that with his offensive workload increasing with the departure of former teammate Chandler Parsons.
James Harden won a gold medal this summer under the tutelage of one of basketball brightest minds in Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski. As a result the bearded one knows what he has to do to take his game to the next level: Play defense or end his career as a better version of Michael Redd. Remember Him?
But that’s only half of the equation for the Houston Rockets championship hopes and dreams. Dwight Howard makes this problem complete and ready to solve. But Houston Rockets fans might not like the answer they receive after my following statements.
Let’s be honest if Dwight Howard played up to his abilities he would have at least one championship ring by now, right? For whatever reason the 28-years-old now entering his 11th season still doesn’t have any post moves.
Howard still relies on dunking and a faulty running hook shot as his form of offense. The 6’11 superstar has been spoiled with some of the game’s greatest big men as his coaches. Patrick Ewing is a 7-foot hall of famer, a player who averaged 21 points a game for his career and has his jersey hanging in the rafters in Madison Square Garden. Still no post moves for Dwight Howard.
In Howard’s brief stay in Los Angeles he had arguably the greatest big man ever the NBA all-time leading scorer 7’2 B-ball icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at his disposal and still no post moves. Not even a bootleg version of the famous sky hook. Now in Houston Dwight’s own coach, 6’11 Kevin McHale who is regarded around the NBA as a former player who had great footwork for his size and a 3-time champion, still can’t get Howard to produce out of the post. And to top the cherry off Dwight Howard has enrolled in the great Hakeem Olajuwon camp for big men for a second time. The two-time champion and the two-time finals MVP still can’t get Dwight to replicate a watered down version of the dream shake. And to add insult to injury in a recent interview Dwight said “I’m working with my teammate Josh Powell on my foot work.”
Really Dwight?? Of all the great legends I just mentioned you choose to take pointers from a guy who averages 3.9 points for his career?
With all that said Howard still averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds in Round 1 of the 2014 playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers that saw two-year guard Damien Lillard deliver a dagger 3-pointer to send the Houston Rockets home In Game 6.
So here we are again: A new season for Dwight Howard filled with promises of a better post game and a better effort on the defensive end. With all due respect to James Harden and Dwight Howard you guys have the potential and opportunity to be this generation Shaq and Kobe, its time to stop making excuses and get the job done. As a matter of fact it’s time to put or shut up.