The Dwight Howard Trade, Also Known as the Superstar Shuffle

Wow, there was a major blockbuster trade that went down today.  Here’s how it went down:

  • The Lakers get C Dwight Howard, PG Chris Duhon, and SF Earl Clark (ORL)
  • Orlando gets SG Arron Afflalo and PF Al Harrington (DEN), as well as C Nikola Vucevic and SF Moe Harkless (PHI), and throw-ins PF Josh McRoberts and SF Christian Eyenga (LAL), with (I think) five lottery-protected first-rounders (LAL/PHI/DEN)
  • Philadelphia gets C Andrew Bynum (LAL) and SG Jason Richardson (ORL)
  • Denver receives SF Andre Iguodala (PHI)

I call this trade “The Superstar Shuffle” because there are three .200 WP48+ players in this deal (Howard, Bynum, and Iguodala).  I am also going to say that, for the Lakers, this was something of a wash.

Yes, you heard me right-a wash.

First off, this deal is not as much of a blockbuster as we may think because Wins Produced says that there are many centers who are more productive than Howard and Bynum.  However, there are explanations for most of those surpassing the two such as relies-on-dunks-and-defense (Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, DeAndre Jordan) and sample size (Omer Asik, Kosta Koufos, Anderson Varejao, Chris Andersen, and Cole Aldrich).  Joakim Noah is the only “greater” center who does not fit into one of those categories.  Using both sets of reasoning, Bynum and Howard are both top-five centers, along with Noah, Chandler, and a number of worthy candidates who are a tier below those three.  (I can’t put Jordan in there because he just disappeared in the play-offs, while Camby’s pretty old.)

The other major reason is that there isn’t much of a difference between Howard and Bynum.  Howard produced .243 Wins Per 48 Minutes, while Bynum produced .208.  Over 2,500 minutes (which is a bit thirty a game), that is a difference of only 1.8 wins.  Considering that the Lakers were never a fringe play-off team, this doesn’t make much of a difference-maybe one spot in the standings.  Howard is better than Bynum, and an improvement is an improvement, but it’s just not that much of an improvement.

I am not going to buy into the fact that Howard’s offense will make him more of a weapon (and decrease Kobe’s field goal attempts substantially) because Howard’s scoring efficiency was only about 8.5% better than Bynum’s last year, and he actually had fewer field goal attempts per minute than Bynum did.  This leads me to assume that the presence of Nash will help Kobe’s efficiency at least a bit, but it won’t be much more for Howard than it would have been for Bynum.

Of course, swapping Bynum for Howard straight up is not the only major factor in assessing how well the Lakers did.  For one, we also got Chris Duhon and Earl Clark.  Clark is a terrible player, better released quickly, who has never produced a positive number of wins in his three NBA seasons.  Please discard him, Mr. Kupchak.  However, Duhon is a serviceable point guard.  I understand that Duhon will be thirty before the season starts and that he is not the player he once was.  However, his only below-average seasons were in the past two years, and for most of his career he has been better than Steve Blake.  I see Nash about thirty minutes a game, with Blake and Duhon sharing the other eighteen or so fairly equally.  I just hope that they don’t play Duhon and Blake together or that Blake gets more minutes from Duhon unless Blake proves better than Duhon next year.  Of course, Duhon could be cut; I just hope he doesn’t.  Finally, D-12 could leave after only one year, but it’s LA-nobody thinks he’s going to.

Enough with the Lakers; the interesting wrinkles lie everywhere else.  I’ll start with Orlando.

I cannot believe that the Magic accepted this trade but denied the one with Brooklyn.  With the Brooklyn trade, they would have gotten Kris Humphries, who is very good, Brook Lopez’s new contract, which would be very, very tradeable, MarShon Brooks, who is young and tradeable, and four unprotected first-round picks.  It would have been almost too easy to get a great haul out of Lopez after a year or two of tanking, plus Lopez might actually remember how to rebound.  Brooks could get better, or he could not, and either way he is very pleasing to the conventional eye.  Out of those four unprotected picks, I am pretty sure that at least one of them would have been bound to be a lottery choice because, even with the acquisition of Howard, the Nets’ “stars”, especially Joe Johnson, are not as good as people think.  In other words, Humphries would make them better, and everything else could make them better, directly or indirectly.

I do not think that Orlando’s acquisitions are as bad as some people, like Bill Simmons, think, but it is not good.  Afflalo is a good player, but he is not a player that you can build a team around now, at twenty-seven he probably won’t get better, and already he is not as good as he was two years ago.  Vucevic is twenty-two and already about average, but I don’t think that Orlando is going to get him enough minutes to really blossom.  The same is true for Josh McRoberts, but even more extreme because he is twenty-five and has never hit 1,000 minutes in a season despite being heartily above-average the past two years.  Harkless has a very average projection for a rookie, while Eyenga has not proven himself to be anything useful, although those two are nineteen and twenty-three, respectively.  They will get a lot of first-rounders, but they are all lottery-protected.  According to the Wages of Wins, picks in the twenties are the most valuable in terms of salary and potential production, but I think that the Magic will find a way to blow many of them, judging on their drafting pedigree.  They also gave up Jason Richardson in addition to Howard, who may be thrity-one but is still a very competent shooting guard.

And then we hit the ultimate stink bomb: Al Harrington.  Harrington has over $20 million over three years left on his contract.  Al Harrington is an inefficient volume scorer whose only above-average trait is collecting skills.  If my memory serves, Al Harrington does not have a lot of trade value now, and will not for two more years when his becomes an expiring deal.  I cannot believe that Orlando agreed to take him on; Nuggets fans are laughing and dancing in utter relief right now.  I know that it could have been a lot worse for the Magic, but they had a better offer on the table and turned it down because Rob Hennigan does not like Kris Humprhies’s game.  I don’t know; I just don’t know.

Speaking of the Nuggets, how about that?  They manage to pick up Andre Iguodala, the fifth-leading player in total Wins Produced last year, and get to dump Al Harrington, while only surrendering four overpriced years of Arron Afflalo and one or two lottery-protected draft picks.  Those Nuggets made out like bandits, and I believe that they are the indisputable winner of this trade if you use Wins Produced.

There are only two things that bothers me about them getting Iguodala.  One is obvious; Masai Ujiri and friends have a created an amazing team who are definite contenders in the Western Conference.  The other is what to do with Danilo Gallinari.  Gallinari is an oversized small forward who has historically been forced to play power forward, leading to abysmal rebounding totals.  I can see Iguodala playing off-guard and Gallinari at the 3, but they have the Wilson Chandler, the fruit of Ujiri’s one major mistake, clogging up space there.  I think that Gallinari or Chandler can/should be traded, and knowing Ujiri, it probably will happen.  The only move left to turn Denver into a champion is to fire George Karl!

Finally, we reach the 76ers, who also got a major boost.  They got Bynum and Richardson in exchange for Iguodala, Vucevic, Harkless, and future picks.  While the future is bright for Vucevic, I don’t know about one of the other lost assets, and Bynum is amazing.  If not for the fact that the Nuggets got their last major piece to become a legitimate contender, the 76ers would have won this deal.

But wait, I’ve barely mentioned the loss of Iguodala, and that was a bad thing, right?  It was, but Philadelphia stupidly made it very clear that they were getting rid of Andre Iguodala.  The way I see it is that Philadelphia upgraded greatly at center over the incumbent Spencer Hawes, one of the two most important posititons along with point guard, and got a solid shooting guard, while only giving up a guy they were going to rid of anyway and young assets that may/may not pan out.  Considering their positions, Iguodala and either Vucevic, Harkless or one of those picks for Bynum is not a bad deal, and Richardson for the rest is not a terrible mistake unless Richardson becomes absolutely useless.  Of course, Bynum could bolt after one year, and that really makes Philadelphia’s situation tricky.  So, anything you say about this trade for the 76ers has to be taken with a grain of salt whether you like it or not.  Thank you for reading, and please comment.

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One thought on “The Dwight Howard Trade, Also Known as the Superstar Shuffle

  1. I think the Lakers were done with Bynum’s immaturity and inconsistant play; considering those factor the Lakers made out like a tall dog in short grass.

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