Stay or leave: Is Dwight Howard a good fit for the 76ers, or should I look elsewhere?

The 76ers’ journey to the 2021 Finals ended sooner than all of us expected, but it gave us a chance to take the lead in the offseason. Before we delve into the draft, fake trades and various other issues, the first task is to determine who should stay and who should stand out from their current free agents.

Stay or leave: Should the 76ers let Danny Green come back for another year?

Dwight Howard is next on our hot list because we see if the bulky figure is enough to give him a chance to stay in Philadelphia.

2020-21 statistics: 7.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 58.7/25.0/57.6 field goal percentage

Looking back on the year

After a year of success as a substitute for the Lakers in the 2019-20 season, Dwight Howard’s redemption journey continues in Philadelphia. Howard found his position when he entered his 30s, bringing vitality and athleticism on the bench without the weight of being a star with a franchise as he did in Orlando, and is expected to be in Los Angeles and Houston.

Like many bench players of his age, Howard’s day and night experience oscillates back and forth between “influential energy guy” and “completely beyond his depth.” Howard’s athleticism is clearly still there-he completed several lob passes by his teammates, and when he made the correct blocking attempts, he was still able to replicate a volleyball spike on the hardwood. But his decision was dubious at both ends of the season, and Howard seemed to match the goalkeeper every time he blocked shots.

Howard’s biggest problem is his tendency to foul, which cannot be ignored/escaped at any end of the court. Howard is a ruthless offensive rebounder. His rebound rate was among the best in the league last season. This is a double-edged sword for Philadelphia. To be honest, Howard’s offensive rebounds are better/more efficient than many of the actual offenses they ran for the second team, but his single-minded rebounding often resulted in him picking up stupid, unnecessary fouls when trying to make room. Eliminate opponents.

Perhaps it is fair to point out that part of the problem seems to be a reputation issue. Howard’s belt is much shorter than many opponents he has faced throughout the year, requiring edge mobile screens and reactionary technology that other players may escape. But this is a point that must be considered when evaluating his year and his future. If a player has been closely monitored by officials and does not have any leeway to play according to his liking, then this cannot be ignored.

Another elephant in the room: Howard is a member of Philadelphia’s worst offensive lineup. This is not necessarily a reflection of him, but it must be a reflection of Philadelphia’s lineup construction. The 76ers are limited in their options for Howard to play, thanks to the poisonous Simmons/Howard combination that reappeared in Philadelphia’s seventh game. Whether Simmons is on the court or not is the difference between Howard’s lineup that makes their ass bump up and down on the floor and win battles with other bench lineups.

queue Turn off RTG DEF RTG Network X-ray
Howard + Simmons (368 minutes) 101.4 110.2 -8.8
Howard, no Simmons (827 minutes) 104.0 103.2 0.8

To be clear, the offensive stats in any of these settings are not good. In Philadelphia, a bench big man who can help solve this problem would be greatly appreciated. But this does show that Howard can be used as a backup center effective enough to keep the house from burning down around him.

Frankly speaking, the product on the field is almost Everything Howard brought to the 76ers as a teammate was secondary. This sentence fragment seemed unthinkable a few years ago. As a teammate, he is a relentless burst of energy, constantly giving him crazy nicknames, embracing the weirdness of this season with his arms. When the 76ers play their home games in front of an empty arena, Howard will still play like in the crowded Wells Fargo Center, signaling to the non-existent crowd that he (and his team) maintain the same mentality as them. Usually will be.

Howard sometimes has fire as a player, but he certainly isn’t as a member of the team. In terms of minimum contract signing, you might do worse.


For me, Howard’s future in Philadelphia will not have much doubt under normal circumstances. Unless a team is willing to give him some extra cash after playing the role of a wise mentor for Howard for two consecutive seasons, he is a cheap deep player who can provide you with clear skills and good bench experience. As long as you feel good about his body, there is absolutely nothing wrong with running back. Howard took his physical condition seriously later in his career.

However, the Simmons factor complicates the problem.Rivers of course Tried Let the two play together last season and played 368 minutes in the regular season, which seems to be unworkable. It’s not surprising that a lineup of two non-shooters can cause disaster in terms of space and offense, especially when you include Matisse Sebre. But worrying about the suitability of your backup big man and the top-paid point guard is very destructive, so the 76ers are actually forced to rely on Tobias Harris + substitute players.

This doesn’t mean you can’t bring Howard back, or he can’t be an effective substitute for the 76ers in the 2021-22 season. In fact, if you make a similar comparison to the departed big man Tony Bradley, the split will be more dramatic, and Simmons’ fate coincides with the dominant advanced stats:

Bradley + Simmons 108.7 105.0 3.6
Bradley without Simmons 121.9 102.3 19.6

Obviously, we are dealing with small sample theaters here, but you get the idea. For me, the decision to return Howard has little to do with Howard, but depends on your ability to obtain viable alternatives with quite different skills. You don’t want Howard to be your only viable backup big man into next season, and they discovered this when his efficiency in the playoffs declined.

Will Howard’s presence and previous role on the team prevent them from attracting the kind of stretch they might want/need in that position? This is another issue to consider. When you are looking for the fewest types of substitute players as a capped team, your main selling point is either the chance to compete for the championship, or the bigger role players can’t get elsewhere, or both. After the defeat in the second round, the 76ers could not provide the former with as good opportunities as other teams, but they may be able to introduce a big man who thinks the role next to Ben Simmons is to get more playing. Time and way of playing time. There will be more money in 2022-23.

Verdict: stay, but with conditions

If the 76ers (pronounced: Doc Rivers) expect Dwight Howard to return and play the same role he did in 2020-21, then you almost have to move on at the executive level to force the head coach to take action. Howard is an influential work for a pre-season champion, but Lakers coach Frank Vogel is ready and willing to let him sit down completely, if it is clear that this is not his night. Howard can’t be a fixed member of your rotation at all. If the experiment will only allow Howard to play for others next season, then you basically have to say goodbye to new fan favorites. If Simmons survives the offseason, he needs more small balls and a shooting-centric lineup.

However, I hope the coach has enough flexibility to mix and match, and the front desk can see Howard as part of the bench, with more diversity behind their starting center. Howard is still a reliable pick-and-roll partner for guards like Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey. Although his commitment to the ball is part of Philadelphia’s transitional defensive issues this season, I think in the end you can get enough value from him for some of his Weakness defense. The key is to put him in the right place in Philadelphia’s hierarchy to minimize the impact of defects while maximizing his advantages.

At the lowest contract level, it is not always easy to find players who can provide you with good playing time on the court and increase real off-court value. Since Howard has both, I think the 76ers should consider bringing him back, but only if they can put him in an appropriate place in the team’s hierarchy.

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