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Possible Destinations For Dwight Howard

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard may be one of the bigger free agents in 2016. What are some possible destinations for the former all-star?

After failing to move Dwight Howard before the NBA trade deadline, the Houston Rockets will continue to play him until at least the end of the season. The 30-year-old center will go into the summer as an unrestricted free agent. Teams were interested in trading for Howard, but the asking price for the Rocket’s big man was too much. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the team wasn’t prepared to move Howard unless they received “at least one frontline player and a future first-round draft pick in return.” With NBA teams putting less emphasis on big men, it’s no surprise that the organization couldn’t move the 11-year pro, especially given his injury history and diminishing athleticism.

With all that said, Howard will have the option to move to a different team during the offseason. Several teams may be interested in offering him a contract despite his flaws. He’s still an elite rebounder (averaging 11.9 per game this season) and is still a big body in the paint on the defensive end. His offensive game doesn’t span anywhere beyond the paint, but he does have the ability to attract attention given his size and limited post moves. 

There are only a couple of teams that can utilize the services that Howard can provide, despite the dwindling emphasis on centers who live in the paint.


New York Knicks

The Knicks (23-33) are a team that is clearly in the rebuilding stage. Despite their record, the team has shown flashes of what they could be in the future, especially with the acquisition of what may be the steal of the 2015 NBA Draft with Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks even kept Carmelo Anthony after the trade deadline. 

If the organization manages to sign Howard in the offseason, a big three of Porzingis, Howard, and Anthony could be a lethal combination. Although Carmelo is one of the best scorers in the NBA, the idea of having Howard and Porzingis in the front-court should be attractive to the Knicks.

A front-court of Porzingis and Howard could provide defensive problems for other teams. It’s odd to have two seven-footers start in the front-court, but with these two players, it could work. Porzingis can provide spacing on the floor, and Howard can post-up and create opportunities for other players with his size. Porzingis may take the majority of his shots in the paint (38.7%), but he’s well-rounded enough to shoot from mid-range (33.6%) and from three (27.5%).  


Spacing is an extremely important characteristic that many elite teams possess, but having a big man in the paint who can score is also important. Having Howard in the paint provides another dimension that the Knicks sorely need to become a more efficient team offensively. He may not have the post-moves that Tim Duncan or LaMarcus Aldridge possess, but he’s big and athletic enough to go unnoticed. 

Despite being a one-dimensional player, Howard is shooting a career-best (61.3%) from the floor this season. A big reason why he’s only averaging 14.6 points this season (fewest since his rookie season) is because James Harden has the ball in his hands every possession and runs the offense. However, with the Knicks, Howard may find himself playing a bigger part in the offense. Howard has shown the ability to put up monster numbers when given the opportunity and when he’s locked in.


The NBA has moved towards spacing and creating easy threes or buckets in the paint. With that said, rebounding is an underrated facet in the game because it leads to extra possessions. Extra possessions lead to more opportunities to score, which the Knicks can get with Porzingis and Howard grabbing boards. Porzingis only averages 7.7 boards per game, but Howard can teach the Knicks’ rookie tips and tricks on how to get himself in position to rebound more effectively. 

Both players also make it difficult for others to get to the rim, given their length and size, so trying to get points in the paint would be a nightmare for opposing teams.

The Knicks would need to add sufficient complementary pieces, but Howard going to New York could possibly make them a strong contender in the Eastern Conference.


Boston Celtics

The Celtics (32-24) are a center away from being even stronger than they have shown thus far this season. Nobody at the beginning of the season could have guessed that this team would be the third-best team in the Eastern Conference following the all-star break. Howard can be the center that the Celtics need to push themselves to being title contenders.

Boston doesn’t have good depth at the center position, currently playing Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk. Adding Howard to the Celtics would be a upgrade for the Celtics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good fit. 

Per The Washington Post:

Boston’s offense is run largely through transition and the pick and roll (38 percent of possessions between the three), plays in which Howard doesn’t have much usage (16.7 percent of possessions).

Although the Celtics are playing well, a big body would be a good piece to add. The problem in adding Howard would be that he would need to adjust his game. He would need to be the kind of player who runs the floor and be involved in the pick and roll.

The Celtics have plenty of tools to score from the outside. Involving Isaiah Thomas and Howard in that situation can give teams problems, given Thomas’ ability to attack the rim and create shot opportunities for others and himself off the dribble. Howard would be a solid fit for the Celtics at the right price, but he needs to prove that he can be more than just a post-up player.


Rebounding continues to be an issue for the Celtics. Howard is fifth in defensive rebounds per game (8.4) and fourth in offensive rebounds per game (3.5). He can be an immediate solution to their problems securing defensive possessions and earning second chance opportunities. 

Fansided’s Jeremy Karll:

“The problem is, the Celtics allow the seventh most offensive rebounds per game, once again attributed to their lack of size. Boston is a solid rebounding team, eighth in the NBA, but they don’t have someone who consistently eats up boards every night. While the lack of a true inside presence is mostly talked about on the offensive end for Boston, it hurts them even more on defense.”

Defensively, Howard brings the rim protection that the Celtics need to push them to the next level. Despite not having a huge rim protector, the Celtics are fifth in defensive efficiency in the entire league. Adding Howard would bring the potential of making them a top-three defensive team. Much of what makes the Celtics great is their perimeter defense. Pieces such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder have proven to be more than capable defensive stoppers. 


Dallas Mavericks

After failing to add DeAndre Jordan in free agency last year, the Mavericks can put effort into picking up Howard. They’re essentially the same players. Here is a quick rundown of their stats so far into the season.

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The underlying difference is that Howard is the better offensive player, and Jordan is a better defender. Jordan may shoot a significantly higher percentage from the field, but the thing to keep in mind is that he gets his opportunities to score off of putbacks and open looks created by others. 

Howard has the ability to do what Jordan does on the offensive end and create his own opportunities to score. On the other hand, Jordan is better more of a menace on the defensive end. However, Howard can’t be ignored because of his size and presence in the paint. 

With that said, the Mavs may be looking for someone of Howard’s caliber to strengthen their roster. The situation that he would be going into would be perfect. It’s fairly obvious as to what the team try to do on the offensive end. The Mavs need another dimension of offense aside from the pick and roll. Adding Howard may be the piece that Carlisle needs to expand the team’s offensive sets.

The Mavs can still run the pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki or Howard, making them even more dangerous. Howard can’t space the floor, but the attention he garners in the paint still creates open shots for other players. If he’s not passing the ball out to shooters, he’s scoring in paint. Howard has been open in saying that he wants his touches, and the Mavericks can provide that to him.

The signing of Dwight Howard can be a big opportunity for the Mavs. However, there are also some red flags that can come along with signing the Rockets’s big man.

Cole Mentzel from Fansided:

“Taking Howard in would be a big risk for a Mavs team that has dealt with Rajon Rondo, another player with a similar behavior. Also, it says something considering the fact that Howard was moved by the Magic and Lakers because he was unhappy with his situation, and now he is unhappy with his role in Houston. Granted, the Mavs don’t really have any players with conflicting attitudes or tempers, but sometimes players are just destined to eventually become unhappy with every situation they enter into.
One more thing to take into consideration is that Howard is already 30 years old. If he was to go to the Mavs, he would be the focal point with Dirk Nowitzki not too far away from retirement. Would he really be worth all of the money and would he be the right player to build a team around? That’s a question that Howard has only answered once in his career and it came during the late 2000s in Orlando.

Howard can make an immediate impact wherever he chooses to go in the offseason. Although the NBA is turning into a league where true big men have a hard time finding success, Howard still serves as a two-way player whom opposing teams need to game plan for. It is ideal to put Howard in a system where shooters surround him and players can create opportunities for him. Several teams will be interested in signing him in the offseason, and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up come next season.

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, Jaidyn Hart.

SQuiz
How many blocks per game did Dwight Howard average during his time in Orlando?
Created 2/20/16
  1. 2.2
  2. 1.5
  3. 1.8
  4. 2.5

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