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Dwight Howard for Whiteside – Not a Bad Idea

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According to Calvin Watkins ESPN article , Dwight Howard is not seeking a mid season trade from the Houston Rockets. However, Howard is likely to opt out of his contract this off season, and become a free agent for the second time in three years.

Despite Howard’s declarations of wanting to remain in Houston, rumors persist that he is unhappy with his role and the news he plans to opt out only serve to add veracity to this suggestion. If that’s the case, it seems it would be in the Rockets’ best interest to trade the eight-time All-Star before February’s trade deadline.

While there are only rumored trade options, one such deal that makes sense is the Miami trade for Hassan Whiteside.  The reason is the Heat are concerned they won’t be able to re-sign Whiteside this summer and retain Luol Deng and others.  Furthermore a trade of Howard to the Heat would in essence give them a viable replacement, but one who came with his Bird rights which would give Miami flexibility to resign Howard as well as Deng.

In my opinion Daryl Morey should seek a trade for Howard before he leaves Houston high and dry like he did to Orlando and Los Angeles. Whiteside is a talented young player full of all-star potential, whereas Howard is no longer the MVP caliber player he once was in 2010.

Dec 9, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) shoots the ball over Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller (40) during the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Howard is still an elite player, but his play has been inconsistent.  In 28 minutes versus the Kings, Howard only managed to score 4 points and grab 4 rebounds. Two nights later, he went for a double-double with 16 points, and 15 rebounds. Sure it can be argued it was one off night, but what’s the excuse against the Wizards where he scored 4 points and grabbed 9 rebounds?

As for Whiteside, his play has been relatively consistent each night out this season.  A normal game for Whiteside is registering a double-double or close to it like he did versus the Thunder when he had 11 points, and 8 rebounds.  And there are also the above average outings for him such as his dominant game versus the Nets when he scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had 1 block plus this came versus Brook Lopez.

Acquiring Whiteside in a mid season trade will make the Rockets a considerably better team both now and in the future assuming the Rockets could re-sign him. Since his mid season breakout last year, Whiteside stands as one of the top big men in the league. He may not have the same achievements, but in his third season, Whiteside’s impact on the court has become greater than Howard’s effect.

With a player efficiency rating of 24.4, Whiteside is a bit more effective than Howard who has a PER of 18.6 per game. At 26-years old, Whiteside is much younger, faster, and more physical than a 30-year old Howard who is a shell of his former self.

Offensively speaking, Whiteside may not seem like an upgrade over Howard, but then again DH hasn’t been lighting teams up either. Regardless the Rockets still manage to score posting the fifth most points per game in the Association (104.2).

Meanwhile Miami doesn’t run any plays for Whiteside, yet he averages 12.5 points per game. Nor should his ability to score in the post be overlooked especially when he shoots the second highest percentage from the field (61.9%).

While some can argue most of his points come from put back dunks, Whiteside is developing a soft shooting touch around the basket, hitting 15 foot jump shots, and has a nice sky hook. As for Howard, he is still shooting that same two-step hook shot, and since his athleticism has gone down, has became less efficient down in the low post.

If Whiteside continues to improve offensively, he will possess a better inside game than Howard ever did in his 11-year pro career.

The biggest impact Whiteside offers is defense. Howard is no longer the defensive master-minded player he once was during the peak of his career in Orlando.

The Rockets are the fourth worst defensive team in the league, but adding Whiteside will automatically make Houston more of a threat on defense. Just look at Miami’s defensive numbers.

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Thanks to Whiteside’s 90.1 efficiency rating on defense, the Heat are ranked as the third best defensive team in the league allowing 93.8 opponents points per game or 96.9 per 100 possessions. As well as holding their opponents shooting percentage to 42 percent.

Whiteside’s biggest contribution on the defensive end is his astonishing ability to block. He is currently the NBA’s top shot blocker averaging 3.9 blocks per game.

Statistically, the only characteristic Howard does better than Whiteside is rebound.

Howard is third in rebounding this season with 11.8 boards per game, while Whiteside is only pulling down 10.6. However, Whiteside’s rebounding should not go unnoticed. Some can argue that Howard does not have the help rebounding the ball like Whiteside.

The second best rebounder on the Heat is Chris Bosh who is averaging 8.4 per game. In Houston the second best rebounder is Clint Capela with 7.0 boards per game. With all that has been said, just think, Whiteside has yet to reach the prime of his career yet.

Regardless if these trade rumors are true or not, overall it is sad to see Dwight Howard’s career in Houston turn into the Dwightmare 3.0. If the Heat are willing to let their young and valuable center go for a former all-star, why not make it happen. If there’s anyone worth trading Dwight Howard for, it’s Whiteside.

Next: Sideline Chirps Ed. 3

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