3. Commitment to Bill Russell-esque role?
If you can get past the first two questions, and you’re okay so far, you must convince Howard that he is not Kareem, or Hakeem for that matter. You need more Bill Russell for the former defensive player of the year. He started regaining some of that paint dominance near the end of the season, but he will never dominant on the offensive end with a vast array of moves. Sorry, don’t see it ever happening.
Therefore, Mark Jackson and management must convince him that he must dominant the defensive side and leave the scoring duties to others, mainly Lee, Curry, Thompson and Barnes. He can get his touches, but they should be much fewer than he probably is willing to admit. His propensity for offensive fouls, turnovers and poor free-throw shooting could mess with the flow that the Dubs have on offense.
In comparison, Howard turned the ball over 15 percent of the time last season with a usage percentage of 22 percent. During his prime (2002), Shaquille O’Neal, who Howard is often compared to, had a usage percentage of over 30 percent and turned the ball over only 10 percent of time.
If Howard is catching the ball four feet from the bucket and laying it in after ball movement, that is fine. But merely dumping the ball in and watching him “go to work” is not the brand of basketball that this bunch of players thrive off of.
4. Willing to forego cap space in 2014 for a run at LeBron?
You still with me? If you have ok’ed the prior three questions, then answer this one for me. Do the Dubs, with all their success, awesome fan base and praise as a model franchise, want to sacrifice a chance at LeBron James in the summer of 2014? My guess is probably not.
The Warriors have only $33 million committed in 2014-15. Obviously, a few players will be due for extensions, but if things do not play out next season in terms of growth of some players (Barnes, Green, Festus Ezeli and Thompson), then it may be worth blowing it up for the best player in the world who appears to be a little less drama and more impactful on the court than Howard.
By getting Howard, the Dubs would be giving up a chance to get James still in his prime. Rather than getting a player who impacts the game on one end, they could get a player who impacts the game everywhere. There is no question that James leaves his fingerprints all over every game because he does everything. But imagine the possibilities if James came to town. Bogut, who is currently making $14 million, may be willing to re-sign at much less if James is in town. Further, Barnes or Thompson become expendable for other pieces that the team needs to improve.
Howard mortgages the future by forcing the Dubs to make a decision on certain players now, whereas waiting for James allows the Dubs more flexibility going forward. If Rush comes back healthy, the rookies from this year improve, Thompson improves his consistency and Bogut heals to the form of the playoff menace we saw, that gives general manager Bob Myers a surplus of options. Howard eliminates all the fun stuff the Dubs could do and makes it about him for the long term, which is generally how he likes it.
But if you can answer all these questions with “I’m down” or “It still seems like a good idea,” then by all means, take Dwight Howard. Obviously, it could all turn out aces and this article will be forgotten as one of the many that were incorrect, but these issues are among the most important questions the Dubs have had to answer in a long time and must consider them if they wish to change the culture.