While Dwight Howard is working on his post game with Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, and probably James Harden as well, are hoping to enjoy the presence of their new star center by utilizing him in as many Pick & Rolls as possible. The only problem with that? Howard might not be too keen on doing that anymore.
Among all the dirty laundry let out by Lakers players and their head coach about Dwight Howard had to do with his unwillingness to be a part of the offensive scheme, and speficially asking for the ball in the post instead of being a pick & roll kind of player. However, numbers suggest he participated in a lot more pick & roll plays (11% of his involvement in possessions) with the Lakers than he did with the Magic, with his usage numbers in pick & roll players hovering between 6-8%.
Jeremy Lin? He’s expecting to see a lot of Howard in the pick & roll, where he’s quite useful and a roll-man, averaging 1.29 points per possession as a roll-man with the Lakers last season, ranked for 9th in the NBA.
We’re not yet in Houston and haven’t trained together so I don’t know yet. But he really likes to play pick-and-roll and I really like to play pick-and-roll, so I hope we can work really well together and really happily learn how to play with each other.
Both Harden and Lin used a lot of P&R last season. Lin used it on 25.9% of his shots, averaging 0.85 points per possession, while Harden was one of the best in the league coming off the pick, averaging 1 point per possession, ranking fifth in the NBA.
But it’s not about the comparisons between the two and their effectiveness coming off the screen. It’s about Howard and the offense – how will he fit in, and how much of his own personal preference goes into what we’ll see on the floor?
The post-up was 45.2% of Howard’s offense last season, but he wasn’t very effective in it, averaging only 0.74 points per possession on such plays, making only 44.5% of his shots while posting up to the basket, compared with a 79.6% when coming off the P&R. There’s no doubt what serves him and his team better.
He doesn’t have to neglect the post up, and there certainly will be moments when Lin and Harden are ordered to push the ball inside. It also should free up shooters and create some spacing the Rockets loved to do when Harden wasn’t clinging too much to the ball last season.
But Harden might be the key to make this one work. If this becomes some sort of battle of egos between the two stars, we might see each of them pulling to a certain direction. McHale chose that the offense goes with Harden’s strengths last season, leaving Lin to play in a very different role than what he’s used to. If Howard feels that strongly about posting up as much as possible again, it might be another choice McHale is forced to make between Harden and his newly acquired center.