Freedarko.com, one of the best basketball blogs on the planet, has been going a little crazy with Hakeem Olajwon posts recently culminating in this extensive comparison of Dwight’s Magic and Hakeem’s champion 1995 Rockets. I highly recommend reading the entire post and watching all the compare / contrast clips of Howard and Olajuwon. It’s a well-thought-out article, and a nice visualization of the differences in two great centers.While watching Hakeem embarrass double teams from two oversized athletic bigs in Shaq and Horace Grant, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my uncle, a one-time top high school ball hotshot who knows the game better than I ever will. We were discussing the elements of post scoring, in particular Tim Duncan’s game I think, and he let me in on a little secret. The turnaround is the key to a complete post game.
It’s a simple move, but it’s true. The turnaround jumper with or without the fadeaway is the pressure release move of the post game at any range. Ewing, McHale, Jordan, Bryant, Malone, and Garnett went to it as first option and made their countermoves off of the turnaround. Kareem, Hakeem, Shaq, Duncan, Dantley, and Barkley used the turnaround as a countermove when the defender overplayed the middle. If a player has a reliable turnaround the defender’s options are very limited. If the defense gives any room, the offensive player can spin and put up that jumper at will. If the defender gets into the body and takes away the space, then it’s up-and-under time, and forget about it if the offensive player has a dribble. It’s over.And that’s the next move that Dwight needs to develop. He needs a reliable turnaround jumper particularly from the baseline. Having range would be helpful, but confidence is more important. His hook is getting better every year, and he has a nice one dribble face up and counter spin drop step combination, but good defenses can really take all of that away. They can’t take a quick, easy turnaround j off the left blocks away. When he starts hitting that shot consistently, watch out.