Among the many things confusing about Dwight Howard's past two years of public behavior, his attitude toward the pick-and-roll is certainly one of the lesser known but more important ones.
Essentially, the timeline goes like this:
•Dwight Howard becomes superstar in Orlando behind a system focused on using his insane athleticism in the pick-and-roll to devastate defenses and open the floor for a perimeter attack.
•Howard goes to LA and bristles at Mike D'Antoni's approach of using him in the pick-and-roll, with reports indicating that he wants to play in the post more. This flies in the face of all evidence via Synergy Sports and other sources that Howard is much more effective as a pick-and-roll player than on the block.
•Howard goes to Houston, immediately starts talking about how excited he is to be in the pick-and-roll with James Harden. Those of us paying attention cock our heads and go "Wait, what?"
Now, there's this quote from Jeremy Lin, who talked about what needs to happen as far as he goes with Howard next season for Houston.
Jeremy Lin said Sunday he's looking forward to pairing up with the Houston Rockets' newly acquired star Dwight Howard.
Lin told reporters on a visit to Beijing that he saw a natural affinity in the pair's affection for the pick-and-roll game.
"We're not yet in Houston and haven't trained together so I don't know yet," said the 25-year-old point guard, who was in China to oversee a basketball camp.
"But he really likes to play pick-and-roll and I really like to play pick-and-roll, so I hope we can work really well together and really happily learn how to play with each other," Lin said.
Let's be clear on this. Howard wants to play with Harden. That's what brought him to Houston, along with Chandler Parsons and Kevin McHale. So Lin isn't going to get the same kind of embrace from Howard. But if they can learn to play together, and if Howard does embrace the pick-and-roll game again, he and Lin could really do some damage when Harden is getting a breather.
How Howard relates to pick-and-roll sets next season will be very interesting. If he bristles, it's another sign that he lacks a good self-awareness for his strengths and weaknesses. If he embraces it, it's a sign that perhaps he sabotaged the situation in LA, which will only further cause angst from the organization and its fans toward him.
It's also the biggest key to the Rockets' success, and since Lin wasn't traded this summer, this is going to be a major plot point of Houston's first season with the big guy.