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Houston Rockets Are Better Off Without Dwight Howard

Nov 20, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) and Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) talk during the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) and Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) talk during the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dwight Howard era is coming to an end. Good riddance.

I’m sure Dwight Howard is a nice guy. He seems like he’d be fun to hangout with (in small doses). He does a lot of good things for the city of Houston, but sadly, one of them is not playing great basketball.

Howard is posting a minus -.8 in the plus/minus (+/-) for this season, with a minus -3.4 in March. His net rating for this season is a minus -1.6, and a minus -4.6 net rating for March.

In Sunday’s loss in Indiana, Howard scored 11 points and posted a minus -15 in the +/-. While the Rockets were down 16 points to the Pacers, they came roaring back with Howard on the bench. And as soon as Howard came back in, I said to my wife, “Well, there goes the run.” Sure enough.

Also, consider that in Friday’s win over the Toronto Raptors—the second seed in the East—Howard scored 2 points, took two shots (got into foul trouble) and posted a +1 in the +/-. He didn’t help us win that game.

Rockets Are Better Off Without Howard

Let those numbers above be the tiny petri dish of this season. The Houston Rockets are better without Howard.

It’s hard to always analytically sniff out what the problem is with Howard and the Rockets, but it’s plain to see something is off. In the feel and pace of many games, the Rockets are a better team when he is not in the mix. Remember last season? Howard missed nearly half of the season and Harden and crew took the team to the second seed, the division banner, and the Western Conference Finals.

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The balance of the team shifts when Howard walks onto the court. Whether it’s a swagger factor, an expectations element, “We have to get Howard the ball.” Why? “Well, he’s the highest paid player, and he used to be really good.” Howard in the post is so painful to watch. All it takes is one double-team and he drops the ball like he’s playing hot potato. His turnovers, from either a bobbled pass or a chuck at the rim from a foot away are momentum killers. Simply, the Rockets don’t need his offense. And they definitely don’t need his offense with his steep price tag attached to it.

Howard Is An Anchor Alright

People talk about Howard being the anchor for the defense. They are right. He’s an anchor dragging the defense and the offense down with him. With Howard on the bench, the offense is quicker and the spacing improves. Harden can actually get in the lane, Beasely can do work, D-mo can hook it up there, Capela—who has a soft touch and can catch the basketball—can score and block shots.

It’s probably not too much of a shocker that our offense picks up pace with Howard off the floor (from 95 to 99). The “really?” comes in when you see that the Rockets’ defense is still pretty good—if not better—when Howard is on the bench. Capela gives the Rockets a faster pace , lower turnover ratio, and better defensive and offensive ratings than Howard.

Capela / Howard Compared

  • Pace: 99.76 / 98.84
  • Team Turnover Ratio: 10.4 / 15.7
  • Offensive Rating: 106 / 104
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 / 105.8
  • Net Rating: 2.9 / -1.6

Ball don’t line. Numbers don’t lie. The Houston Rockets are better off without Dwight Howard.

Next: Rockets and Raptors Reversal of Fortune

Next: Should Rockets Tank?

Next: Bickerstaff's Puzzling Rotations

Next: 5 Players Rockets Should Target

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