Video Analysis: Dwight Howard's Low Post Game ... and Dunks | Magic Basketball



May 19

Video Analysis: Dwight Howard’s Low Post Game … and Dunks

Dwight Howard‘s struggles on offense against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 were catalogued everywhere, it seemed. Everyone far and wide bemoaned Howard’s performance, citing that he’s no better in the post than he was a few years ago. Not only were people preaching that statement like it was canon, for whatever reason, but they were completely ignoring almost every game this year during the regular season when Howard made great strides on the low block.

Game 2 was another example.

Howard’s improvement and productivity can’t be denied, no matter what people may believe.

Via Synergy Sports Technology (in the Post-Up category):

2009-2010 regular season %Time Poss PPP* FGM FGA
Al Jefferson 56.4% 772 0.92 302 643
Dwight Howard 60.9% 895 0.91 272 521
Tim Duncan 41.7% 577 1.04 231 453
Zach Randolph 33.2% 564 1.01 221 456
LaMarcus Aldridge 43.9% 614 0.91 220 498
Dwight Howard’s career %Time Poss PPP* FGM FGA
2004-2005 30.7% 277 0.68 77 199
2005-2006 46.6% 601 0.70 162 400
2006-2007 52.0% 762 0.78 217 509
2007-2008 52.9% 841 0.87 249 541
2008-2009 58.3% 925 0.87 275 589

*Points per possession

The numbers speak for themselves.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera


I don't know if you've used Synergy before but I've been using it for over a year and even though it has its limitations, it's still a very useful tool to determine how good or bad a player is with regards to a specific play-type or scenario. I'm skeptical to your criticisms of Synergy with regards to your argument about how it tracks plays and such. I can assure you that it covers every possible result of a possession. For instance, I could easily pull up how Howard performs when the defense commits to him and he passes the ball to a cutter. I didn't do it for this exercise because I merely wanted to show how Howard stacks up against other post players in the NBA, as well as reveal his year-to-year improvements since he's entered the league.

Synergy does have limitations but some of your criticisms don't carry weight because they're not true. In any case, good discussion.


Howard doesn't need a 15-foot jumper. It's not a necessity. There are plenty of players in the NBA, now and then, that thrived in the post without being much of a threat from the perimeter. And I second @Billy (slickw143)'s comment.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Shaq never developed a 15 footer. You don't need one. All you need is to be able to have the footwork to get yourself in position to shoot the easiest shot possible (yes, dunks are included, until they get outlawed by the NBA). So if Dwight can get in position for an easy-jump hook, or drop a spin move that gets him in position to throw one down, that's all he needs. He had 30 points on 13 FGA in game 2. I think any player in the NBA would take that kind of production, no matter how it came about.

I, for one, will not be marking any of your words from here on out.


It might be interesting to see his post production (w/o the dunks). Every single play in that clip is either a dunk or a jump hook. He still hasn't developed a 15 foot jumper, and is a liability at the free throw line at the end of games. Mark my words, the Magic will never win a championship with Dwight Howard as the best player.


Since Synergy opened it's gates to the public, everyone seem to have fallen in love with this ppp* type analysis. I for one don't get it and declaring that "the numbers speak for themselves" is argumentative to put it mildly. Here's why:

Synergy define plays by the last action committed. They also define a possession as something that ends either with a To, FT's or a FGA. That's troublesome to say the least.

If for instance a certain player consistently finds open cutters for easy layups from the post - Synergy numbers do not show it. Perhaps Duncan does it 3 times as often as Howard? maybe Al Jeff does it 2 times as much? point is - we just don't know.

Picture this scenario: A player gets the ball on the block and posts up his defender. The entry pass is made with 12 secs left to shoot. The post player, attempts to back down his defender, gains some ground, pus the ball on the floor only to see a double team coming. He quickly picks up his dribble with 7 to shoot. Pivoting around he's looking for help only to pass to a covered teammate with 3.5 left to shoot. Out of choices, the teammate takes a step back off the dribble 3 as the shot clock expires. Was that a good post play? probably not. Synergy wouldn't even count this play as a "post play". It'll probably be labeled as "Shooter - ISO - Miss". That's just not good science :p

Moreover, let's take another look at the aforementioned imaginary play:

What if the post guy, catches the ball, backs down, puts the ball on the floor and just as the double team comes - he finds an open wing player on a corner 3? Assuming the wing player is a good 3pt shooter, that would be classified in my book as a "good" post up play.

That too however, would not be part of what Synergy defines as a "play" or a "possession".

Without "real" ppp numbers, and not synergy's version and definition of "play". We can hardly use these numbers as an objective argument. Is it better than nothing? Sure. But I wouldn't say the numbers "speak for themselves" as this dataset only reveals a part of the story. We would require better numbers to make such a bold claim, meaning that the numbers "speak for themselves".

P.S I'm not suggesting that Howard or any other particular player is good\bad\average in this category (post up play) or any other - all I'm saying is that we don't really know which is which and who is who.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera


Ontro (Instrumental) by Black Milk. It's on his album, Popular Demand.