Dwight Howard has no excuses now. One of the best centers in NBA history, Hakeem Olajuwon, whose offensive skill set as a big man is the envy of most players, is set to join the Houston Rockets as an assistant coach specifically to tutor Howard, who bolted the storied Los Angeles Lakers after one season.
Omer Asik will get to benefit from Olajuwon’s infinite knowledge, too. But rest assured “The Dream” is taking his first official job with the team since 2001 because of Howard’s arrival.
“We are going to bring him in as full-time as is possible,” Daryl Morey, Rockets general manager, said to the Houston Chronicle. “It’s not done, but we have mutual interest to get it done, and we’ve had some early discussions. We want him to work with Dwight and Omer, and he wants to do that.”
The criticism of Howard has been that with all his physical attributes, he has not developed a polished post up game that would catapult him to another level as a player. Olajuwon was a master with the ball with his back to the basket, using an arsenal of maneuvers, including his renowned “Dream Shake,” where he eludes a defender with swift upper-body moves and then spins around him for a basket.
Olajuwon also had a deft touch off turnaround baseline jump shots, which, barring a miracle, Howard just will not develop.
At 7-feet, Howard’s offense mostly has been off his ability to rebound on the offensive glass, get down the floor and overpower foes. The Rockets understand that if he can incorporate some of what made Olajuwon a Hall of Famer and two-time NBA champion into his game, he would significantly help the team.
Meanwhile, Howard said his experience playing with the demanding Kobe Bryant was not easy at times, but not difficult enough to impact his decision to sign with Houston.
“Was it tough playing with Kobe? Yeah, it was very tough,” Howard said. “But playing along with Kobe didn’t have any parts of my decision going to Houston. I just felt like Houston was a better situation for me and my career. Me and Kobe, we had our disagreements, we had our moments. Everybody knows Kobe likes to score and there were times we would get at it getting the ball. And that happens on a team.”