Daily Babble: Careful Now, Dwight

In general, Dwight Howard is the man.  He is the man in Orlando, and it has been my contention for some time now that he will be the man across the Association for a long time before all is said and done.  That day appears to be coming even sooner than expected, as he has once again improved his game over the summer and come sprinting out of the gate for 23.0 points, 15.2 boards and 2.9 blocks per game in leading the Magic to an excellent 16-6 start.

So the disclaimer here is that given Howard's quick progress as he continues on in his fourth season in the league (watch his stat lines jump from year to year; it's really amazing), any complaint here is really pushing the envelope and is representative of a D-Ho fan getting greedy, because the problem will likely be fixed soon.  This, however, is simply to note that the problem area for Dwight to next address has become abundantly clear: Holding on to the basketball.

Currently, Howard sits at sixth in the league in turnover average at 3.73 per game.  Yao Ming (10th) is the only other big man in the top ten, with every other player listed being either a point guard (Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Jamaal Tinsley, perhaps AI is considered a point these days) or a prominent wing player who has the ball in his hands a lot in his team's offense (Dwyane Wade, Stephen Jackson, Andre Iguodala).  For point guards who are involved in virtually every offensive play and wing players who make up an inordinate portion of their teams' offense, those numbers are at least more understandable.  The same can't be said for Howard, especially when one considers that of the league's top ten in turnovers per game, only Jason Kidd has a lower usage rate (21.4).  Not only is Howard turning the ball over with regularity, he is likely doing it with more frequency per touch than many others around the league.

Over the last six games, this problem has become particularly evident, with Howard going for turnover figures of 6, 8, 1, 9, 6 and 5 over that span.  He is averaging 5.3 turnovers per in four December games.  Unsurprisingly, the Magic now sit at 22nd in basketball with 15.2 turnovers per game, though they only force 13.9.

Certainly, this isn't a death blow.  With Howard dominating inside on both ends of the floor, rebounding and blocking shots with abandon and becoming a leader, one can't be too bummed with his performance.  But in order for him to take himself and likely his team to the next level, and in order to avoid teams really looking to pressure him with the ball in his hands late in games down the stretch, Dwight Howard will have to learn how to hang on to the basketball. 

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