It feels funny actually writing about a player who ISN’T thinking about going overseas. As marcus the great wrote in Smack today: wouldnt it be more of a news flash if we reported on players NOT interested in playing overseas? i know its slow and all, but every day its like Player X might look into a foreign league.” Well, here you go: Dwight Howard, despite reports that he was interested in China, will not be looking to play overseas. The stipulations the CBA put in regarding NBA players (no opt-out clauses) has caused the big man to back off. So instead, he’ll do the only sensible thing it seems for NBA superstars to do nowadays: go to Hakeem Olajuwon camp.
Just as LeBron James recently said he will go to Dagobah to learn the force from the NBA’s reigning Jedi Master, Howard told Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel he will do the same:
Howard worked with Olajuwon for a week earlier this summer and three days last summer, concentrating on Howard’s footwork and scoring mindset. Howard reveres Olajuwon, who he calls “Dream,” and he intends to visit Houston again in the coming months to work with the two-time NBA champion.
Howard has also been working with a new shooting coach for the past week.
The private shooting sessions are already making a difference in his jumper, Howard said.
“It’s looking a lot better,” said Howard, who has yet to release the name of the shooting coach. “I’ve been working with him a week and he’s changed my shot tremendously.”
Howard worked with Olajuwon earlier this summer with the goal of getting his free throw percentage up to 75 percent, and last season, after spending time in the summer with the Dream, Howard became visibly more aggressive in the post. Did Olajuwon actually make him better? Was the force flowing through him or was he still just the apprentice? Some claim Orlando just got him the ball more. Either way, the time with one of the most fluid big men to ever play can’t hurt. The same goes for LeBron, who is actually very formidable in the post. It’s just that he NEVER goes down there.
Why doesn’t the Dream just open up his own training grounds? Charge people some money. Set rules up. A registration list. Give out camper t-shirts. We’re joking, but seriously how many guys in the league would benefit from time with Olajuwon? Every player he’s met with so far has seen increases in how effective they are inside.
As ballplayers know, the summer is when you make your name. That’s when you make the jump. Howard realizes that now, and if he takes another step next season (like he did this year), or if LeBron can finally harness his potential as a post-up player, it’s going to be fun to watch.
How much better can Howard get? How much better can LeBron get?
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