NBA Trade Rumors: Why New Jersey Nets Must Land Dwight Howard

Jesse FeldContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic sits on the bench during a timeout before the final seconds against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Right now, the Nets look the same way they have since they lost Jason Kidd as their leader: pathetic. Landing Deron Williams has helped them, but they rank in the bottom five for points scored, allowed and rebounds per game, so there is room for improvement.

The team is planning on moving out of New Jersey and into Brooklyn, which is why they are on Dwight Howard’s short list of preferred teams. Landing Howard is crucial to the future success of the Nets franchise, in whichever city they may be in.

Williams has not guaranteed that he will sign a long-term deal with the team, and reports have him talking about playing in front of his hometown for the Dallas Mavericks.

If the Nets can lock up either Williams or Howard, the other will be more likely to sign a long-term deal with the team.

The Nets are 11-25 as of now, but have played the bulk of their season without starting center Brook Lopez. Nineteen different players have scored a bucket for the Nets this season because of all the injuries they have been dealing with.

During his seven years in the NBA, Howard has only missed a total of seven regular season games. Adding Howard would give the Nets an identity and would help them look forward instead of wondering where the franchise is headed.

Lopez would be the centerpiece of the Nets’ trade offer, but there is question as to whether or not they have enough extra talent to acquire Howard. I believe that they do have enough, but would have to include draft picks.

The Nets would not be an instant contender, but they would definitely be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Howard. The team would then be able to build off of the two All-Stars, giving them a title contender for years to come.

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 14:  Deron Williams #8 of the Western Conference passes against Dwight Howard #12 of the Eastern Conference during the NBA All-Star Game, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at Cowboys Stadium on February 14, 2010 in Arlington, Texa
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The Nets are 28th in the NBA in rebounding, averaging 39.8 per game. The addition of Howard would boost that, as he is averaging a career-best 15.3 rebounds per game this season.  The Nets would have Howard and Kris Humphries (10.7 rebounds per game) eating up every rebound possible in the paint.

The Nets are also the fifth-worst team in points allowed, giving up 99.1 points per game. Howard has won the defensive player of the year three years running, and his averages of 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game would turn around the Nets poor defensive efforts.

Although he’s known for his defense, Howard would also help bring offense to the Nets. He does not have a plethora of post moves, but his size and athleticism makes him virtually unstoppable. He demands a double team in the post, which leads to open threes—something that would help the Nets put in more than the 92.5 points per game they now average.  

Howard is the best center in the NBA, and some would argue that Williams is the league's best point guard. With these two on the roster, the Nets would only need some key role players to put them over the top, and those players may already be in place.

Humphries averages a double-double. Jordan Farmar and Deshawn Stevenson are guys who already won a title and are now veterans in the league. And if the Nets are able to get Howard without giving up Marshon Brooks, they could have a lethal lineup ready to take on any team in the NBA.