Hakeem Olajuwon made a Hall of Fame career, in part, out of his crafty post moves. And since his retirement, the legendary Houston Rocket has made a living teaching those unique offensive skills to some of the league’s brightest stars.
A few offseasons ago, Olajuwon worked with Kobe Bryant, helping redefine part of Bryant’s offensive game as he entered the latter stages of his career. And after LeBron James’ disappointing showing in the 2011 NBA Finals, Olajuwon briefly tutored the Heat star, helping sculpt an improved back-to-the-basket game that’s paid clear dividends the past two seasons.
Recently, Olajuwon spoke of both occurrences in an interview with Nike Kicks, lauding Kobe, LeBron and a few other stars who flew out to Houston for dedicated workout sessions with him. It’s in the embedded video at the bottom of this post, starting at around 5:40, and includes some interesting anecdotal quotes from Olajuwon.
But toward the end of the interview, he was also asked which players, of those who haven’t trained with him yet, would benefit most from his tutelage.
His answer: Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant.
“(He’s) very skilled, but doesn’t take advantage of his height in the post,” Olajuwon said. “He’s much taller than most of the guys who guard him. He’s got all the outside game, but now he needs to take them in the post. In other words, there’s something for everybody.”
Overall, Durant’s actually been pretty efficient with his back to the basket, scoring 1.04 points per post-up last season (stat via mysynergysports.com), seventh highest in the NBA. But it still feels like an underutilized part of his game, particularly (as Olajuwon said) when he has smaller players defending him. Only 10.4 percent of his offensive moves were out of the post last season.
Will he do it more in the future? We’ll see. Will he work with Olajuwon to improve? Couldn’t hurt.
But it’s not exactly the most pressing issue facing the 24-year-old or his team.
Planting Durant’s 6-foot-10 frame on the block against overmatched small forwards sounds like a good offensive option. But so does isolating him on the wing, placing him in the pick and roll or just about every other possible scenario which involves getting the ball in the hands of the NBA’s youngest three-time scoring champ.
Example of a Durant post-up…
Full Olajuwon interview…