Dwight Howard is a dominant center. He’s the most feared big man the NBA has seen since Shaq was a Laker. But his idea of what makes a great roster might be skewed. Not even a week after giving the Orlando Magic a one-season ultimatum for improving his supporting cast, Dwight says Gilbert Arenas was just used wrong.
“I don’t think our coach used him the right way, but I think he can do a lot of great things for our team,” Howard said. “He promised me this summer he was going to get better, physically and mentally, so he can come back and have an awesome year. I’m looking forward to that.
“I just felt like he didn’t get the opportunity to play his style but also play with me. I think he needed to. I think he got a couple of opportunities to do it in the playoffs, but it was kind of too late. So I think he will be great for us.”
Gilbert makes a lot of promises, Dwight.
OK, let’s be fair, here. Gilbert Arenas will only turn 30 this upcoming season. A chance to get healthier and be part of the Orlando system from day one could help him become productive.
That’s enough of being fair.
The Orlando Magic system, assuming it stays the same because the people who have put it in place are all still there, requires people to hit outside shots. In a nutshell, when teams double-team Dwight, he kicks it out and the ensuing ball movement finds a missed rotation and that guy buries a shot. Mix in a few pick-and-rolls and that’s the Orlando offense.
Gilbert Arenas is not a great shooter. He’s shooting 42% overall for his career, about 35% from three. He’s averaged big points over the course of his career by taking a lot of shots. And unless he has an epiphany (like, say, “oh wow, I can run pick-and-rolls with a freak-of-nature big man… maybe I should do that a lot and pass it to him more often”) he’s going to be the same guy who needs to dominate the entire offense to be anything close to effective.
The thing is, and this is where Dwight gets caught up, Gilbert has the ability to do the right thing. He’s a good passer and he does have good basketball instincts. The problems arise when Gil gets caught up in trying to get himself the spotlight. Let’s face it, the whole “Agent Zero” persona is about him getting attention. Gil is an obviously insecure guy who needs to be the star. And stars score. And you have to shoot to score, even if that means missing a lot more than you make.
But maybe, just maybe, Dwight DOES know all this. Maybe Dwight isn’t falling for Gilbert’s charms. Maybe Dwight just knows that Gilbert is Orlando’s problem now, and he will be for the next few years unless something radically changes in the next CBA and Orlando can take a mulligan. Maybe Dwight sees the writing on the wall and is pumping Gilbert up because he knows a sulking Gilbert might as well not even suit up. Because the fact remains that Orlando’s hamstrung by Gilbert’s contract (and Hedu Turkoglu’s as well). Nothing is going to change that.
I’m hoping the latter is the case. Because if its not, then Dwight Howard is a terrible General Manager. He’d better go Hollywood after he retires, because believing in Gilbert Arenas is not going to get you much of a front office career.