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Is Dwight Howard a great player?

As is always the case when the Houston Rockets are on TNT, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were not at a loss for words when giving their opinions on center Dwight Howard.  Shaq said that while Howard was once a great player, he now is just a good one.  Barkley, giving new meaning to the term revisionism, stated Howard never had been great.  A reader, Losthief, weighs in:

You know whats funny, i think most people and tv ‘analysts’ don’t realize Howard is only playing 34 minutes a game right now. (his least since his rookie year) And I figure this is cause of health, coaches/teams long term goals. So yes, his averages per game are similar to the down year in LAL land, but her per 36 stats are actually much closer to his last 3 Orlando years. In fact, the only thing he is really below more than a marginal statistical variance is his shotblocking. And this includes a slow start to the year for him in November scoring wise.

Per 36 min:

FG%    FT%   ORB  DRB  TRB  Steals  Blocks AST  TOV  PTS  PF

Howard (3 years orlando)     59.3     56.0    3.5     10.0   13.5   1.2      2.4      1.6    3.3    20.1   3.2

Howard (LAL)                          57.8    49.2     3.3     9.2    12.5   1.1       2.5     1.4    3.0    17.1   3.8

Howard (Rockets)                   57.5     53.2    3.7      9.6    13.3    1.0      1.9      1.9    3.3    19.0   3.8

Omer (2012-2013)                  54.1      56.2    4.0     9.9     14.0   0.7      1.3      1.1    2.5    12.2   3.3

Also, Omer also only played 30 min a game last year without a back-up center available, and 35 minutes in the playoffs, Howard plays 34 minutes a game right now and has usually averaged just under 40 min a game in the playoffs. 5 minutes of game time is a significant drop off, especially when comparing two guys whose the one who plays more minutes provides (per 36 min.) 6.8(!) more points, 0.5 a block more, 0.6 steals, 0.8 assists more while shooting a higher percentage. This is while giving up only 0.6 rebounds less and 0.8 TOV less.** Also, you would have to pay omer after next year, which he’ll demand more than 8.3 million a year, so not as much a savings moneywise over the course of the next five years as you would think versus dwight’s contract.

**(And I could argue that 2.5 TO’s is even worse for asik than dwights 3.3 TO’s as he didn’t lose them on post-ups like dwight but rather in the flow of the game (aka he turns it over more per touch (2.5 TO at a 12% usage rate to 3.8 at a 24% usage rate respectively)).

stats from here:

http://www.basketbal.../howardw01.html

http://www.basketbal…a/asikom01.html

Now, devils advocate, He’s numbers are bouyed as much by a great december as they are hurt by the slow start in November and current slump in January. If we get December dwight (or something similar) over the next couple years, comparing asik to him is fruitless. If we get November Dwight, you have a better arguement (especially with potential $ savings) as far as value per dollar, but I’d still take dwight cause you can’t keep both lin and asik moneywise going forward (after next year) if you get KLove, and Dwight plus KLove is always better than Omer or Lin plus KLove over the next 5 years in my opinion.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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