Washington Wizards 2016 Free Agency: The Case Against Dwight Howard


The Washington Wizards have a lot of cap space and need to sign another star, but they should absolutely avoid Dwight Howard

Free agency is nearly upon us, and the Washington Wizards could definitely be in the market for another big man; perhaps even a replacement for starting center Marcin Gortat. That’s what one of the most commonly bandied-about names, Hassan Whiteside, would be.

But why settle for Whiteside or Gortat when the best center of his generation, an 8-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA First Teamer, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year and future Hall-of-Famer is gonna be on the market, right?


Grabbing a player with the resume and pedigree of Dwight Howard would be one of the splashiest moves the Washington Wizards could possibly make.

Howard is perennially one of the most talked-about and scrutinized players in the league, and no potential target, save Kevin Durant, has his pedigree.

But that doesn’t mean the Wizards should go after Dwight Howard. In fact, quite the opposite.

I’m here to make the case that the Wizards should throw any idea of trying to sign Dwight Howard right in the garbage.

First off, to understand why this is a bad idea, you have to understand what the Wizards already have in Marcin Gortat, since signing Howard would mean that the Polish Machine would have to be sent on his way.

Gortat isn’t backing up anybody, and playing them alongside each other is Andre Drummond/Greg Monroe/Josh Smith level stupid.

Gortat earns some heat for not being the type of physical beast the Washington Wizards need sometimes – and what has Dwight Howard been if not the NBA’s greatest physical beast?

However, Gortat more than makes up for those deficiencies with his mobility and skill on both ends of the floor, where he’s both John Wall‘s perfect pick-and-roll partner and an immensely underrated defensive anchor.

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He’s durable, reliable and consistent, and he’s coming off his best season as a Washington Wizard.

No one should be untouchable if you can get somebody better, but to ship out a player like Gortat (who has three years left on his deal), I’m gonna need convincing evidence that Howard will be a significant upgrade.

Gortat (32) is older than Howard (30), but he’s played less than half the total minutes Howard has played in his NBA career.

Superman is going into his 13th season as a starting center, and most worryingly, he’s already started to suffer from severe back problems that have robbed him of much of his dominant athleticism.

Back issues can be one of the most damaging developments for an athletic career, and one can’t count on Howard to be healthy for a full season anymore. Not coincidentally, those injuries have coincided with a downward trend in his production.

Last season, Howard averaged a career-low 13.7 points per game, which you can certainly partially attribute to James Harden dominating the ball. But there’s no possible way Howard would ever mesh in the pick-and-roll with Wall as well as Gortat does, and his all-around offensive skill is inferior to the Polish Machine.

Technical skill and touch on the offensive end has never been Howard’s calling card.

He’s provided throughout his career by being an incredible physical specimen, but that’s starting to desert him, and once it happens, there’s no turning back.

Although he’s two years older, the man with the better offensive potential for Washington going forward is Gortat.

On the defensive end, Howard may be the man with three Defensive Player of the Year Awards, but a big reputation doesn’t mean he’s actually the better defender today.

In fact, the stats are kinder to Gortat’s defense – opponents shot 6.3% below their season inside 10 feet and 8.2% inside 6 feet, while Howard’s opponents shot dead-even inside 10 feet and 1.9% less inside 6 feet.

Howard blocks shots at a better rate, but the difference isn’t that significant anymore.

Gortat’s defensive approach is based off his mobility and positioning rather than the Howard’s brute power and athleticism, and it’s aging much better.

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Sure, Howard was on a dysfunctional team that didn’t really care about defense, but that isn’t an excuse.

Even running on autopilot, a man of Howard’s pedigree should be doing better than that.

It’s another mark against him.

Howard has one big edge over Gortat: he’s a better rebounder, which has always been the case and doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

But should the Washington Wizards really be willing to drop millions more dollars on Dwight Howard just for a few extra rebounds?

That’s one of the biggest arguments right there: the price tag.

Gortat is making $12 million next year, which is turning out to be a steal for a center of his caliber. Howard hasn’t made that little since his rookie deal. The Wizards are going to have to give him max or near-max money.

The idea that Howard can be rejuvenated in DC, despite his injury history and declining production, is optimistic at best and damn-near suicidal at worst. Howard’s best days are long gone, and they aren’t coming back.

The idea that he’s even better than Gortat right now is dubious, and the idea that he’ll be better than Gortat in the future is even moreso. The Wizards shouldn’t be shelling out way, way more money for that.

Next: Wizards Free Agency: Case Against Harrison Barnes

You want to talk about upgrading with Whiteside over Gortat? OK, we can talk Whiteside. But Dwight? Nah, get outta here.