Dwight Howard and the power of one | Magic Basketball

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Feb 22

Dwight Howard and the power of one

Photo by Fernando Medina

In case you haven’t seen, read, or heard, Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the New York Knicks and will be teaming up with Amar’e Stoudemire to form a dynamic duo that will surely make noise in the Eastern Conference. No, the Knicks won’t be contenders in the East — not yet — due to a lack of depth and defense, but they’ll be a pesky out in the 2011 NBA Playoffs without a doubt.

What does any of this have to do with the Orlando Magic?

Let’s get to that in a second.

One of the primary motivations for New York to acquire Anthony in a trade was to provide Stoudemire with a teammate that could help carry the load.

If it hasn’t become clear already, to win a championship in the NBA requires multiple stars to lead the way for their respective teams. It’s how the Boston Celtics won in 2008 with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. It’s how the Los Angeles Lakers won in 2009 and 2010 with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. It’s why LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh teamed up to play for the Miami Heat. It’s why Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose teamed up to play for the Chicago Bulls. With Anthony and Stoudemire, the Knicks are working towards that model of winning. In fact, the Eastern Conference is so loaded with stars and superstars, the Magic are quickly becoming the exception to the rule.

While their rivals trot out multiple great-to-elite players on a nightly basis, Orlando is buoyed by their lone ranger — Dwight Howard.

Howard is a top five player, a Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate, but he’s flanked by good role players. Not great-to-elite. In an eery parallel, it similar to James’ situation with the Cleveland Cavaliers for seven years. Sure, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis were legitimate All-Stars in 2009 and even then, “All-Star designations” isn’t the end-all, be-all for player classification. But even at their best, Nelson and Lewis don’t match the caliber of supporting cast that teams like the Celtics, Heat, Bulls, and Knicks enjoy. And that’s just the East.

Sure, Howard has help but in a way, he is by himself. Let’s put it in perspective.


net +/- stat. +/- EWA PER WARP Win Shares/48
Ray Allen +4.6 +2.77 6.6 17.3 6.1 .177
Kevin Garnett +14.7 +5.90 6.6 20.9 5.5 .199
Paul Pierce +16.1 +4.85 8.4 19.5 7.2 .201
Rajon Rondo +10.3 +5.12 5.9 18.3 5.0 .150

Boston Celtics
There have been Big Three iterations in the league before, but the Celtics kicked off the new era of Big Threes when Allen, Garnett, and Pierce teamed up to form a trio that experienced success immediately upon their union. The beauty of Allen, Garnett, and Pierce playing together isn’t just that they’re great players, but they’re a cohesive unit in every sense of the word. Pierce is the closer, Garnett is the anchor defensively while doing his due diligence in the low and high posts, and Allen is the sharpshooter that also puts in work during clutch moments.

With Rondo’s emergence as the distributor, Boston has a Big Four and a quartet that work so well together in so many ways. Miami, despite having a superior trio from a talent standpoint, has learned the hard way.


net +/- stat. +/- EWA PER WARP Win Shares/48
Carlos Boozer +3.4 +4.20 5.6 21.2 3.2 .175
Joakim Noah +14.7 +4.27 3.9 19.6 5.5 .204
Derrick Rose +16.1 +4.71 12.3 23.3 8.8 .194

Chicago Bulls
Boozer, Noah, and Rose isn’t a Big Three that’s talked about often, but they should be given their respective gifts. Rose has emerged as one of the best point guards in the NBA and is Chicago’s do-it-all scorer. Noah is the Bulls’ answer to Garnett, meant nothing more than as a comparison of being fiery competitors that serve as the anchors of the two best defenses in the league. Garnett is the more talented player offensively without question, but Noah is one of the better defenders in the NBA and earns the right of being labeled a comparable peer on that end of the court. The similarities between Noah and Garnett are uncanny.

As for Boozer, he is the ying to Rose’s yang on offense.


net +/- stat. +/- EWA PER WARP Win Shares/48
Carmelo Anthony +3.8 +2.32 9.7 21.4 3.8 .157
Amar’e Stoudemire +3.0 +2.19 12.0 23.9 6.6 .144

New York Knicks
With Stoudemire and Anthony, New York has star power. Oh, and two of the better scorers in the league. That much is certain. What isn’t certain is how Stoudemire and Anthony will co-exist in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Another problem is that Stoudemire and Anthony aren’t known for their defense, which makes them incomplete two-way players. Even then, Stoudemire and Anthony are two of the better talents in the NBA and that counts for something.


net +/- stat. +/- EWA PER WARP Win Shares/48
Chris Bosh +7.1 +2.19 7.4 19.5 4.4 .179
LeBron James +10.0 +8.60 16.5 26.7 10.5 .233
Dwyane Wade +6.1 +6.35 14.0 25.1 9.1 .212

Miami Heat
The SuperFriends.

Until further notice, James is still the best player in the league, Wade is still a top five player, and Bosh is still an All-Star caliber player. After a rough start to the regular season, James, Wade, and Bosh are starting to realize their potential and it’s only a matter of time until they fully form like Voltron. Right now, James, Wade, and Bosh are working on half-cohesion, half-talent in terms of making everything click when they’re on the floor together. The devastation they’ve left in their wake has been impressive and they’re only getting started.

Notice the trend?

As good as Howard has been this season for the Magic, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have the support system other teams in the East enjoy. Heck, the Atlanta Hawks weren’t on the list and even they have two All-Star caliber players in Al Horford and Josh Smith, not Joe Johnson. The only thing Orlando has is Howard and it’ll be interesting to see if Nelson along with Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Gilbert Arenas will be able to provide enough assistance to the big fella.

In recent weeks, Howard has been playing like the best player in the league and if he’s able to continue his current pace, the Magic stand a chance in the postseason no matter what. But with a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference boasting duos, trios, and a quartet (for good measure) full of talent, it’s clear that it’s going to be a long road ahead for Orlando. If Troy Murphy does end up signing with the Magic after he gets bought out, that’s more help for Howard.

Will it be enough? Time will tell.

10 comments
TimJ
TimJ

This is getting embarrassing. Stars flying around left and right, and all Otis Smith could do was swap role players.

Wundervogel
Wundervogel

I agree, if we don't get D-Will or CP3 you can kiss Dwight goodbye. He will join up with Kobe and Pau.

hulk
hulk

Dwight can leave. Go ahead. I don't blame him. Everybody is trying to form s super team on a team with a lot of history so why not? I'm sure he doesn't want to hurt the fans of Orlando feelings but he also has to look out for himself and do what's best for his OWN personal goals. Unless another GREAT player can join Dwight he's going to leave. You can bet EVERYTHING he's going to leave if Chris Paul or Derrin Williams signs with the Knicks in 2012. As I Magic fan I don't think its right for him to continue to play his heart out and be in denial about rather he can SERIOUSLY compete for a title against Boston, Miami and soon to be super team Knicks. So I think L.A. is looking real good to him right about now. Its gona suck when he leaves and the NBA is going to be SO predictable and top heavy but hey guess it doesn't really matter if you're a Knicks, Heat, Celtics, Lakers fan. I bet David Stern is the happiest about all of this. More revenue for the league and a raise for him. All us other guys(Struggling basketball teams) have to sit around another 10 to 15 yrs hoping a praying to draft another James, Bryant, Shaq, Ect.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Stern would prefer that every arena is filled every game, not just five or six arenas. I would wager they are going to look to do more to protect the less favorable markets in the next CBA from the inherent advantages that warm weather and heavily-populated markets have over places like Detroit and Cleveland.

Orlando would be perfectly fine as a FA destination... if they had any kind of financial flexibility.

Cheelio
Cheelio

Dwight has said repeatedly that he doesn't want to leave Orlando... He realizes for any elite player to leave behind a long lasting and meaningful legacy, he can't go and team up with a bunch of all-stars looking to create a super team, he has to do it on his own, just like Jordan, just like Olajuwon.

Amaleika
Amaleika

details on the melo trade please?

melo---> knicks and what get the nuggets?

Cgsimone
Cgsimone

You could argue that we're comparable to the Dallas Mavericks in a lot of ways. I know that's a scary comparison because the Mavs are the perfect example of a regular-season team, but that's what I think of when I look at our lineups over the past few years.

Animesuperman
Animesuperman

Actually looking at the advanced stats for the mavs (wins produced over 48) chandler and kidd are playing at the superstar+ level and dirk is pretty close. Looking at the data on a weekly basis you can see dirk's injury caused a dropoff and he's now recovering which means they have a core 3 players that are an all-star caliber if not better and shawn marion isn't too shabby either. The Mavs have a strong chance of making it the conference finals and possibly window of 1-2 years of championship contention.

There isn't anyone on Orlando's side that really compares consistently or that performs well above the average, let alone an all-star level -besides howard. It's sad because the Phoenix trade is panning out a lot better for the Sun's than Orlando. The team is way closer to LeBron's cav's and the lack of a 2nd option is going to kill their chance at a finals appearance unless something turns around soon.

Animesuperman
Animesuperman

Howard's talents really seem underrated given the quality (or lackthereof) of the players on the magic. And I'm not saying that he isn't showered with accolades (he is) but he really is one of the dominant players of the generation (like Shaq was) and it's sad that Orlando hasn't managed to provide a half-way decent alternative to give him the support that's needed. I know the team is trying but looking at the advanced stats in depth it's hard to remain optimistic given the caliber of the teams in the East and I think it's only going to add to Howard's frustrations. Personally I wish a trade with Phoenix had gotten them Steve Nash... well there's always the off season.

Jax502
Jax502

I really didn't like the Arenas trade. I hoped Otis pursued someone who could really produce. We had enough good role players already. We got one of the deepest bench in the league. I think the trade just made our bench deeper but did not really improve the starting role by a bunch.