Dwight Howard’s game is evolving, and Adonal Foyle has a front-row seat

For a portion of the team’s practice open to the media last week, Dwight Howard spent time working on something Magic fans haven’t seen in game situations: mid-range jumpers off the pass. That news is nothing revolutionary. Howard had a jumper in high school, and videos have surfaced of him sinking 15- to 18-footers in shooting drills. But it was nice to see Howard working with Patrick Ewing and a few other assistants/rebounders on one of the few facets of his game that is underdeveloped. The evolution of Howard, only 23 years old, is still very much in the early stages. He remains the league’s most dominant big man despite having a lot of room to grow — and that is a scary thing. Nobody has seen this progress better than Adonal Foyle, the man who has practiced against Howard for more than two years now. Foyle said that Howard leaned on his raw athleticism earlier in his career, but is now beginning to add some polish to his game. “When you’re capable of dunking the ball every single time, you don’t think you have to use a lot of the other stuff that you’ve learned,” Foyle said. “But I think with the experience from the playoffs and the Finals, what that did is it showed him that you don’t really use these skills because you have to, but because you should.” How did the deep playoff run help things? “Because when you do need them, you have to be able to call on them,” Foyle said. “And I think that’s, more than anything, what I think he will get from the experience of playing last year and not being able to do what he wanted to do and having 10 people sitting in his lap and forcing him to do something different.” Foyle, a beloved guy in the locker room and in the NBA, gets pretty heated with Howard at practices. The two guys bang into each other down low — it’s not always so friendly — and that’s likely a big reason the Magic brought Foyle back to the team this summer. “When we push him, and when we tell him, ‘You’re not getting a dunk; I’m not gonna let you dunk,’ it’s never me just trying to be mean. It’s just me making sure he can work on these other things,” Foyle said. “He takes my head off, I try to take his head off – it’s a mutual beat-each-other-up day in practice every day.”

Month of Magic Each day leading up to the season, we’ll take a look at the Orlando Magic by featuring a different player, coach, or storyline.
Sept. 28: Training camp beginsSept. 29: Mickael PietrusSept. 30: Anthony JohnsonOct. 1: FlexibilityOct. 2: Linton Johnson IIIOct. 3: Matt BarnesOct. 4: Shot selection

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily