Commentary

How Howard deals shift title odds

If Dwight switches uniforms this season, the NBA championship picture will change

Originally Published: February 17, 2012
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Dwight HowardRocky Widner/NBAE via Getty ImagesDealing for Howard would improve title chances for teams like the Bulls, Clippers and Lakers.

WINNING A HOWARD TRADE | HOLLINGER PER DIEM | BROUSSARD: FIVE IDEAL TRADES | TRADE EVERYONE ELSE | DWIGHT AND LEBRON | CHANGING TITLE ODDS | DERON'S FATE?

The Dwight Howard hypotheticals continue to fly around every form of media that exists, and after three months of this, we're no closer to knowing just where the NBA's best center is going to land.

We don't even know whether he's going to be traded at all. Some, like Jerry West and Steve Kerr, suggest that Magic general manager Otis Smith should call Howard's bluff. Others insist that it would be a huge mistake for Smith to let Howard walk this summer, that he has to move him now and recover whatever assets the trade market will bear.

It's a fascinating story, because even though it seems like the league is currently suffering from an epidemic of stars forcing their way to new teams, in a historical context this is something that just doesn't happen very often -- not for upper-crust players at their peak, at least. You can estimate that there are only around four to eight uber-elite players in the league at any given time, and that's probably being generous. When players of that caliber change teams, championships hang in the balance. That's the way it was for Moses Malone, Shaquille O'Neal and, perhaps, LeBron James. That's also the way it may be for Dwight Howard.

To jump-start that conversation, we've put some of these scenarios to the test. (Most of these ideas come from Chris Broussard's piece from Wednesday; one of them is from a Broussard article from last month; we raided some ideas from Austin Link as well, and, finally, came up with one scenario on our own, for reasons you are soon to learn.)

Our questions: How much would an acquisition of Howard improve each team's odds of winning a championship this season? Would some teams be helped more than others, once you factor in what they would be giving up?

To answer these questions, we fed each of these scenarios into our SCHOENE projection system. Here are how the eight scenarios played out, listed in reverse order according to how much a deal improves the team's title odds.


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