Limiting the impact of Jason Collins on Dwight Howard is the key to advancement. Seriously.
Is Jason Collins manlier than Dwight Howard?
I poured through stats for the last two days trying to find numbers that put the Jason Collins myth to bed. I kept telling myself that there is NO way that Jason Effing Collins could be really pulling a Kendrick Perkins and manhandling Orlando’s MVP darling. Certainly only 4 games this season is a small sample size and even within those games, all had unique circumstances which I won’t get into (you can make excuses for every game throughout the season).
After dominating Atlanta over the past few years, few Magic fans saw Atlanta as serious competition at the beginning of the season. Now that they have beaten the Magic 3 times, that is no longer the case. I wanted to brush off the regular season series and attribute the stats to the sample size but in the end, I couldn’t argue with the recent numbers.
In four games this season against Atlanta, Dwight Howard is averaging the following numbers: 19.3 ppg, 14.3 rpg and 4.25 turnovers per game. Those numbers are somewhat near his averages (22.1, 14.1 and 3.6) and nothing to really worry about.
- Game 1 ORL 93 – ATL 89 – Dwight 27 points, 11 rebounds, 5 fouls and 3 turnovers in 34 minutes – Jason Collins 6 points, 3 fouls in 22 minutes
- Game 2 ATL 80 – ORL 74 – Dwight 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 fouls and 6 turnovers in 39 minutes – Jason Collins 4 points, 4 fouls in 15 minutes
- Game 3 ATL 91 – ORL 81 – Dwight 19 points, 20 rebounds, 5 fouls and 6 turnovers in 42 minutes – Jason Collins 5 points, 5 fouls in 24 minutes
- Game 4 ATL 85 – ORL 82 – Dwight 17 points, 13 rebounds, 5 fouls and 2 turnovers in 33 minutes – Jason Collins 3 points, 4 fouls in 15 minutes
It would seem that since Dwight is playing significantly more minutes, the Jason Collins impact really isn’t all that great. Yes, Dwight’s numbers are down compared to his season averages… but is it that big of a deal? It actually might be and it turns out that the Jason Collins argument might be legit.
Let’s look at Dwight’s stats for those same games and when he and Collins are on the floor at the same time:
- Game 1 (W): In 22ish minutes on the floor together Dwight scored 18 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, had 2 turnovers and committed one technical foul. Pretty strong showing for Dwight and it’s not looking like Collins makes more of a difference than any other big body would.
- Game 2 (L): In 15ish minutes on the floor together Dwight scored 6 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and committed 4 turnovers. OK, that is a little less like Dwight but I’m sure it’s just one game… right?
- Game 3 (L): In 23ish minutes on the floor together Dwight score 10 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and committed 5 turnovers. Dwight has turnover issues, but this is cause for alarm.
- Game 4 (L): In 15ish minutes on the floor together Dwight scored 3 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and committed 2 turnovers.
Note: give or take a minute here and there, Dwight was on the floor every time that Jason Collins was on the floor.
Ultimately what you are seeing here is that Jason Collins is turning Superman into Clark Kent. When Dwight is in the phone booth, it puts the pressure on the rest of the team to perform. And as we all know, the rest of the team hasn’t been able to deliver on a consistent basis.
Ideally, Dwight will channel his inner MVP-esque determination and overcome Collins and whichever other bodies are thrown at him (Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Hilton Armstrong, Etan Thomas, Josh Powell). If not, then it will be up to Jameer and the rest of the gang to pick up the slack.
For the Magic to push past the Hawks, they don’t need Dwight Howard to be dominant. They do, at a minimum, need Dwight to not let Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia bait and punk him. The Atlanta big men know that their role is to stop Dwight at whatever cost. Dwight’s role must be to maintain his composure and just play his game. Of course, in the playoffs this is much easier said than done. Even for Superman.
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