Dwight Howard's offseason move to Houston came with a lot of promise. The roster looked like it was already constructed for the big man. Howard would be surrounded by shooters much like he was on the Orlando Magic. Houston's budding young star, James Harden, now had a pick and roll partner who could set the screen, roll, catch the ball, gather and dunk on whoever stood in the way.
The issue for the Rockets was how coach Kevin McHale would use Howard with Omer Asik, the big man Houston signed to $25 million in the summer of 2012. Neither player stretches the floor on offense, nor is either comfortable guarding smaller, mobile fours on the perimeter. But so far, the two have played together and it's working.
There was no question that the combination would dominate the glass and in three games that's exactly what has happened. In 34 minutes on the floor together, the Howard-Asik combo is rebounding at a 57.4 percent rate, per NBA.com stats.
all your rebound are belong to us— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 31, 2013
Well, not all of them but yes, a lot of rebounds belong to the Rockets. Howard leads the way, pulling in 17 per game and Asik is collecting 11.3. Houston, as a team, is second in the NBA in rebounding at 48.3 per contest.
The pairing's defense is a bit of a wildcard as neither player is comfortable guarding smaller, mobile forwards on the perimeter, but so far that hasn't been too much of a problem. Through three games, the Howard-Asik combo has a defensive rating of 87.9, per NBA.com stats.
"We have the potential to be a very good defensive team. With those two big guys behind us, it makes us want to be more aggressive and we were out in passing lanes, disrupting their offense and making them uncomfortable," Parsons said
The offense has stagnated a bit with the two on the floor as teams are able to collapse the floor and suck away spacing. That's because neither Howard nor Asik has the ability to stretch the floor with an outside shot.
Houston may also run into the same problem that the Clippers face wherein its two big guys can't finish games because of poor free throw shooting. Neither player is even close to an average shooter from the charity stripe and it'd be tough for McHale to leave them in late to close out games.
But the combination is working on defense and is murdering the glass. Houston is cooking on all cylinders early as it has won its first three games of the season. It's a weird thing to see two centers listed in the starting lineup but if it keeps working, then McHale will keep using it. We better get used to it.