In Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic have the league's most dominant center, at least on defense. He's won the Defensive Player of the Year award in each of the last two seasons, due in part to his leading the league in total defensive boards and blocked shots in those seasons. So I wanted to take a look at the extent of his shot-blocking skills. How many players' shots did he wipe out? What other sorts of trivia can I find if I simply mine the data?
Over the last few months at OPP, we've seen some pretty heated argument about the merits of certain statistical analyses in the comments section. So, for this post, all I did was crunch numbers; there's no evaluative statements in here, just descriptive ones.
The numbers are at times staggering:
Howard blocked at least one shot against 138 players last year, which is nearly one-third of the league.
The only team not to face his shot-blocking wrath was the Phoenix Suns, who avoided Howard swatting any of their shots in his 65 minutes against them this season.
After the jump, some superlatives about Howard's shot-blocking. Which teams and players did he victimize the most, for instance? And how many All-Stars didn't he manage to block at least once? Keep reading.
Here's the list of players against whom Howard had the most blocks last season, not counting the playoffs, which we'll cover later:
Haywood's case is particularly interesting, in that he missed but 10 shots against the Magic all year; that Howard is directly responsible for 4 of those misses raises eyebrows. The other low-usage player on this list is Jerebko, who missed 12 shots against the Magic. Howard blocked 4 of them.
Stuckey was Howard's most common victim, but that didn't stop him from firing away against the Magic, with 61 shot attempts in 69 minutes.
And here are the six players whom he swatted three times in one game:
|30 Oct 09||Courtney Lee||Nets|
|28 Nov 09||Brandon Jennings||Bucks|
|8 Dec 09||Baron Davis||Clippers|
|19 Feb 10||Brendan Haywood||Mavericks|
|11 Apr 10||Mo Williams||Cavaliers|
My favorite fact in the table above? That Howard blocked two Clippers thrice each in a victory on his 24th birthday. Davis and Kaman combined for 6 of Howard's 7 swats. Howard got it done in other ways that night too, though, with 25 points and 11 boards.
Also worth noting is that all three of his blocks against Lee, with whom he developed a tight friendship during Lee's year in Orlando, occurred in the third quarter after Howard had no blocks at halftime. He may have wanted to prove a point, and Lee was his unfortunate victim.
And of this year's 23 NBA All-Stars--Howard himself is the 24th--only five escaped the season without him rejecting at least one of their shots.
Not surprisingly, they all play in the Western Conference, meaning Howard had only two games in which to do that damage.
The Toronto Raptors have the honor of having the most individual players Howard blocked at least once in a single game. On December 16th, 2009, Howard rejected Marcus Banks, Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh (twice), Jarrett Jack (twice), Hedo Turkoglu, and Sonny Weems.
Here are the team leaders, in terms of total blocks and blocks per game:
But as impressive as Howard was in the regular season, he stepped up his shot-blocking in the playoffs, leading the league in total blocks (49), blocks per game (3.5), and block rate (he erased an estimated 8.1% of opponents' shots when on the floor). His postseason resume includes a 9-block outing in Game 1 of the Quarterfinals, in which he blocked Charlotte's Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson thrice each. Two rounds later, he also got Boston's Rajon Rondo three times in a single game. Of the 36 players to suit up against the Magic in the postseason, 23 of them can say Howard blocked at least one of their shots.
There aren't really many conclusions to draw from these data, as Howard's reputation as a defender and shot-blocker precedes him. But if nothing else, you now have a better idea about the extent of his damage last season.