Dwight Howard: Orlando’s Shaq Version 2.0
Posted by Erik on October 8, 2007
Dwight Howard, one of today’s more coveted Tier 2 centers, is off to a good start in his young NBA career. A good all-around defensive player, who is slowly coming into his own in terms of offense. “If he’s so good, why is he in the second tier?”, you may ask. The answer is simple. With all his pluses, there is some bad that does come with the good, and that is his horrible, below 60 FT% (at 8.1 attempts) and his high number of turnovers (3.9). Aside from his fantastic FG% and annually improving point production, another interesting statistic of note is that this youngster has managed to stay healthy (played all 82 games all 3 years of career), in spite of being stationed in in no-man’s land (the Paint).
Dwight’s fantasy stats are reminiscent of a another dominant center, who arguably had his best year during the ’93-’94 (a decade and change ago), and that’s none other than “The Diesel”, Shaquille O’neal. Definitely, their not from the same mold. Dwight, a physical phenom in his right, more than compensates for his “smaller” stature through his ultra-impressive athleticism!
Shaq produced 29.4 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 59.9% FG, 55.4% FT, 2.9 BPG, 2.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.7 TOs over 81 games in the ’93-’94 NBA season, arguably his statistical best.
Last year (’06-’07), over 82 games, Dwight delivered a respectable 17.6 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 60.3% FG, 58.6% FT, 1.9 BPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 3.9 TOs.
Clearly, Shaq has the overall upper hand (12 more points, 1 more block, and 1.2 less TOs make a big difference), but there’s clearly room for Dwight to improve. If Dwight can develop into something close to his predecessor (with the exception of FT%, of course), then there’s a bright future for him as a solid choice for any fantasy team’s center slot. If he improves on his drawbacks, he’ll quickly be elevated and inducted into the Tier 1 center circle. His upside is that he’s got quality help on his team this year in the form of former Sonics all-star forward, Rashard Lewis. So the ball doesn’t need to be forced into him in the paint – theoretically, this situation should improve his turnovers. He can now focus a bit more on his defense, hopefully improving his blocks. What he really needs is a good PG to get him the ball efficiently to improve his scoring which pretty much at the moment mostly comes from doing the dirty work (offensive rebs and put backs)
These guys can even compete in this very entertaining dance-off:
. . . Which apparently, is a category Shaq wins as well. . .
More likely than not, Dwight may never be as dominating a center as Shaq was in his prime. Nonetheless, the Orlando Magic has a solid C in their young star!