Dwight Howard’s Dominance and Hidden Gems of the Night

Today most fantasy basketball sites will be discussing LeBron James, Joe Johnson or Dwight Howard. All three of them are compelling topics, especially LeBron and Dwight, since they faced off against each other in an overtime game that came down to those two superstars making plays at the end of the game for their teams. LeBron had a truly sick triple double with 39 pts, 13 boards, 14 assists and 2 blocks, but Dwight was clutch down the stretch and lead his team to victory. In fact, I wasn’t going to do this yet, but since Dwight is my favorite player in the NBA and has been since his sophomore season (I’ve owned him in my keeper league since then), I’ll finally take the time to breakdown his game and fantasy impact.

(You got robbed, Dwight. Simply robbed.)

At the inception of this blog, I discussed how many fantasy experts rank Dwight Howard much lower than his actual worth because he has always had a horrible free throw percentage. I said it was a bunch of crap! Dwight was a budding superstar who only needed to work on his offensive footwork and shooting ability. Every offseason he worked on his offensive game and got better. He went from 12 ppg his rookie year to 15.8 the next and 17.6 last season. Following that pattern, you can assume that Dwight would improve at the ripe old age of 21, and he would average 20 ppg. Plus he is in the hunt for League’s leading rebounder every year and he’s starting to understand how dominant he can be on the defensive end too!!! Well, here’s what he’s averaging so far this season:

20.3 pts, 14.4 rb (3.3 offensive), 1.8 ast, 2.4 blk while shooting 52% from the field and 63% from the line.

Those are monster numbers in points, rebounds and blocks, plus his shooting is improving. Good shooting is about confidence, especially from the free throw line. He worked hard over the summer to improve, and his confidence in his newfound shot is growing every game. Look at his shooting mechanics. They are good. It’s all mental for him and it’s coming together nicely.

What’s scary for the rest of the league is that his season averages do not show his real potential. His game tonight, show’s Dwight’s potential:

35 pts, 16 rb (6 offensive), 2 ast, 4 blk, shooting 11 of 17 from the field AND 13 of 16 from the line!!

13 of 16 from the line! The best part about his performance from the charity stripe… he hit 2 free throws to win the game with 5 seconds left in overtime! Yes, he missed one in regulation that would have put them up by 4 with five seconds left, but he came back and made up for it here in OT. Stan Van Gundy had enough confidence in his young big man with 6 seconds left in OT and down by one, to run a play for Dwight off the inbounds, which forced a foul and sent him to the line. Has that ever happened to Shaq??? HELL NO! That demonstrates that Van Gundy knows Dwight is gaining confidence in his shot and is ready to put this team on his back to get them some victories! Well, Stan was right! Dwight sank both free throws and they won! LeBron posted a sick triple double, along with very good games from Drew Gooden and Ilgauskas, but they still won! To celebrate Dwight’s HUGE game, here’s a picture of Gemma Atkinson:


Personally, I love the fact that people in the world of fantasy discount Dwight so much (the real world of NBA basketball understands how truly great he is and will be), because I drafted him in the 4th round in a yahoo head to head league! 4th ROUND!! Now if Gilbert will just continue to get healthy, I’ll be sitting pretty.

All right, enough about Dwight. I actually wanted to discuss the players that most people will not be talking about. The hidden gems, if you will, from last night. Let’s get started:

Josh Smith – I know he’s not a hidden gem, but I wanted to mention him because he was on his way to another GREAT all-around game when he strained his quad and was forced to leave early in the third quarter. In 18 minutes of play he scored 15 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and 5 blocks. 5 BLOCKS in 18 minutes!! Word is the stain was minor. I watched him walk off without even a limp, so let’s hope that’s true and he’s back in the lineup next game.

Andrei Kirilenko – Yes, he’s not a hidden gem either, but he’s the last player of this calibur that I’ll discuss here. I have to talk about AK47 because I have been hating on him for a long while now, so I made a point to watch a lot of the Jazz vs Raptors game to see how he does against a decent team. He really impressed me. My biggest question about him was his ability to be a defensive and offensive force without getting many opportunities within the offense (since that was what he was bitching about all summer), but he proved me wrong tonight. He was 1 of 6 from the field, so Andrei said forget about shooting, I’ll just do everything else! He had 8 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks! Simply incredible. He also put the lock down on Chris Bosh and kept him to 14 points with only 7 boards. Jerry Sloan must be doing a great job keeping his confidence high. I still have my doubts about him, but he’s winning me over with every game like this. If he can play with this type of redkless abandon and not care about his scoring, then Utah will be scary good and I will be the most wrong about a player that I have ever been.

Delonte West – I told you to pick up Delonte earlier today and I stand by that statement. He came off the bench tonight against the Heat, who they beat to get their first win!! Welcome back Dwayne Wade… your team sucks! Anyways, he played 29 minutes and had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Nice line. Why did Earl Watson start??

Darko Milicic – I have liked Darko for a long time, and this year he’s showing everyone why. Tonight he posted 10 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, and 4 bocks. This is the second consecutive good game from Darko! He went for 20, 6 and 2 blocks the night before. We have a prediction board in my office, where you make a prediction and The Panel (a group of 2 or 3 coworkers) decide how much money you will owe or receive from the company pot, if you are right or wrong. I said Darko would average 12 points, 8 boards and 2.5 blocks per game. His average after 7 games:

12 points, 7.8 boards and 1.6 blocks

Damn, it’s too bad I got pissed off after the Grizzlies played the Rockets in the preseason, where Darko didn’t even start and he played like crap. I thought if he couldn’t secure a starting gig over Stromile Swift, then he really does suck! I went to the office the next day and paid the $12 I would have owed, if I was wrong! Damn, I can’t get my money back, but if Darko keeps up this performance and increases his blocks (as he is with each game), then at least I’ll have the moral victory of being right. That means more to me than $12 anyways!  Long Live Darko!!


Jason Maxiell – McDyess was hurt for their game against Golden State tonight, so Maxiell got the start and he made the most of it. He had 14 points, 14 rebounds (4 offensive), 5 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks! That is an incredible line! Why is this guy not starting? Maybe because Flip Saunders is a horrible coach? That’s my vote, if Max isn’t starting or getting at least 33 minutes per game from here on out!

Alright, it’s 1:30 am and my baby girl needs to eat, so I’ll stop writing. San Antonio vs Dallas tomorrow night. I hate the Spurs, but they get the win.


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