Who’s Better Olajuwon or Dwight Howard?
Who is the better center Hakeem Olajuwon or Dwight Howard?
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Both are dominant centers in their own time, but who would win this battle royale?
Talented big-men are a rare thing in the NBA. Hakeem was the dominant big of his time, just as Dwight Howard dominates the center position today. Going head-to-head these two bigs are an interesting matchup.
Dwight Howard is definitely the stronger of the two centers with an extra 10 lbs. of on Hakeem and clearly more muscle. Howard also appears more imposing. Howard weighs 265 lbs. and Olajuwon weighs 255 lbs., but the real difference comes in how they apply their physical attributes. This is where it gets interesting.
All of Howard's muscles wouldn't help him against Hakeem. Olajuwon is both taller 7' compared to Howard's 6'11'' and he's better at timing blocks. Hakeem averaged 3.1 BPG over his career with an astounding 4.6 blocks per game on year. Howard has strong numbers averaging 2.4 BPG last season, but he is not in Olajuwon's league in this department. Olajuwon is also more nimble for a big man and capable of both strong and weak side defense. Howard is good on the ball, but does not move laterally as well as Olajuwon.
This is not a good category to win. Howard always seems to be at the center of team drama, while remaining a highly questionable team player. Howard' fiasco leaving the Orlando Magic is well documented and things never quieted down when he arrived in Los Angeles. His loose-lipped approach with the media may endear him to gossip writers, but does little to build team unity. Olajuwon is a devout Muslim and had some drama surrounding his fasting for Ramadan, but was also respected by his teammates for his principles and remains a highly respected elder of the game today. It's hard to envision the next generation of centers go to Howard in the off-season to polish their post moves. Yet, that is exactly the respect Olajuwon commands from the NBA's elite.
Olajuwon is clearly the better offensive player. He not only has better raw numbers averaging 21 PPG throughout his career (27 PPG in his prime) compared to Howard's 17 PPG last season, he is also more versatile. Olajuwon was a magician on the post. He had a variety of drop-steps, fakes, fades, and power-step moves that left every center of his generation confused and looking foolish. Olajuwon is seen as an innovator of post-up play. Howard still relies very heavily on one or two moves. He is all power and can be relied upon to go drop-step 90% of the time he touches the ball. No one will ever accuse Howard of creativity while posting up.
Olajuwon lead the Houston Rockets to two championships. Yes, they both came when Michael Jordan was playing baseball, but a ring is a ring and Olajuwon lead his team to the promise land twice. Howard is usually accused of being more of a blight on team's chemistry than a creator. He has never played on a team that advanced anywhere in the playoffs and has a lot to prove to ever be even remotely considered a leader in the NBA.
Free throws: (Olajuwon)
Do we even have to say it? Howard is HORRIBLE from the charity stripe. Howard shot 49% from the line last season. Olajuwon averaged 71% over his career.
Overall, this comparison is not even close. Olajuwon is clearly the better defender, offensive player, and leader. The only areas Howard wins is in having tons of muscle and causing drama.