The Houston Rockets signed Dwight Howard this past offseason to bolster the interior defense and pair him with a young superstar guard, James Harden. He was also brought aboard because the Rockets were hopeful that the seven time all-star would give the team a post game to be reckoned with. Howard’s early season offensive struggles have been well documented. Coach McHale has had a difficult time assimilating the big man into the offense.
Houston has a record of 10-9 when Howard scores 15 points or less. Part of Howard’s offensive woes steam from the team neglecting to feed him the ball when his back is to the basket. The Rockets are still trying to make Howard a pick-and-roll player, which is not his cup of tea. This offensive style may have worked for the team in the past, but in order to make a deep playoff run the offense must evolve.
When the Rockets face a late game deficit they often limit the playbook, which in turn means a significant decrease in touches for Howard. In today’s NBA, the number of teams that have a dominant center can be counted on one hand. Dwight is more than just an explosive dunker, he is a skilled passer. Establishing Howard in the paint would force opponents to put an extra body on him or switch to a zone. This would open things up for the sharpshooters to knock down jumpers.
If the Rockets are able to diversify the playbook in the second half of the season they will be a rough match-up for any team in a seven game series. A big part of opening up the offense will be Howard’s teammates. Patrick Beverley, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and others are going to need the basketball I.Q. to know when to feed Howard. These players will have to pass on taking a contested three when they can dump it to Howard for an easy bucket when facing a mismatch.
Not being so predictable late in games will make it tough to stop Houston. A mix of high tempo offense and dominating post play from Howard has to blend well for the Rockets to make any noise in the playoffs. Howard should be a nice complimentary offensive piece and take the weight off of Harden’s shoulders.