Over at ESPN.com Professor John Hollinger has created a statistic designed to determine which NBA player’s games are most complimentary on the court to Dwight Howard’s. To determine the "Dwight Howard Teammate Rating" we take a look at a few skills that Professor Hollinger suggested a key complementary player to Howard will have: ball-handling and distribution skills; strong 3-point shooting; a low defensive rebound rate; and the ability to create shots. To create a numerical statistic that will reference all of these categories we will add a player’s usage rate (USG%) to how many 3-point attempts they take per 100 shot attempts (3pt./100), then add ten times their pure point rating (PPR), subtract their defensive rebound rate (DRB%), and add three times the difference between their 3-point shooting percentage (3pt.%) and a league average 30% 3-point shooter. We will also at times consider other statistics that I believe to be extremely beneficial for any teammate of Howard to posses, namely steal rate (STL%), free throw percentage (FT%), and fourth quarter scoring (4Qr.Pts.)
To begin we’ll look at some of the major acquisitions the Magic have made through-out Howard’s career in Orlando and use the "Dwight Howard Teammate Rating" to determine where the Magic have been able to surround Dwight with talent that complements him or if other options were available that could have made the Magic a better team. Perhaps looking through this lens we can see if and when the Orlando Magic front office could have made better personnel decisions.
The results of the Dwight Howard Teammate Rater thus far have been remarkable if somewhat surprising. The prevailing conventional wisdom has been that GM Otis Smith did an almost laughably awful job building the Magic team around Dwight Howard, and that one of the reasons Howard is interested in switching teams is because of Orlando’s inability to pair him with the right teammates. But surprisingly, the Dwight Howard Teammate Rater disagrees.
While the Dwight Howard Teammate Rater certainly can’t accurately gauge exactly how awful Rashard Lewis’ contract was, it seems to suggest that Otis Smith actually did a good job building a champion-caliber team around Howard’s strengths and weaknesses.
While it’s possible that the Dwight Howard Teammate Rater inaccurately skews towards those players who have shared the floor with Howard, it’s clear that Orlando did a good evaluating what players would blossom beside Howard as Hedo Turkoglu, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis all posted extremely high ratings.
While it’s entirely possible that Orlando’s current troubles stem from Orlando’s difficulties in keeping payroll down and developing young players to fill out a solid supporting cast, it’s also possible that the Dwight Howard Teammate Rater specifically looks for the type of players that Orlando has paired besides Howard, rather than those players who might fare best beside him or that Orlando simply overvalued how important these qualities were in their own players.
Still it’s somewhat shocking to see the numbers back-up that Orlando, at the very least, did a good job of identifying what type of players are most dangerous sharing the court with Howard.
We may take another look at the supporting cast Orlando built around Howard in the future, but as the trade deadline nears we’re going to take a look at some players Orlando could reasonably attempt to bringing in to bolster their championship hopes, and see how well they would fit in alongside Howard. We’ll start tomorrow with Steve Nash, who the Magic’s supposedly are actively pursuing..