Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: Jameer Nelson X-Factor to Keep D12 in Orlando

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 08: Jameer Nelson #14 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket during the game against the Miami Heat at Amway Center on February 8, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.   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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Last night Jameer Nelson played a huge game to help the Orlando Magic beat the Miami Heat, leading them to their second win against the "Beasts of the East" in the last week. Nelson had 25 points, his highest output since March 9, 2011.

Could Nelson provide the X-factor to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando? If he keeps playing like this, he could. 

Granted, it's a long-shot, but it's not impossible.

Howard said after the game, "I told them that I want to finish this season out and give our team and our fans some hope for the future," he said. "I feel they have to roll their dice."

Let's just say for the sake of argument that the Magic do "roll their dice" and play out the season. They've shown they can beat the Heat. They've done that twice this season. They've shown they can beat Chicago. They won in the United Center. 

If Nelson could continue to play at this level, then there is a chance—a small chance, but a chance—that the Magic could find themselves in the NBA Finals and even winning it all. 

That's the thing that this all comes down to, isn't it? Howard is the most dominant big man in the NBA right now, and the reason for all the interest around him is that he is seen as a player that, if you surround him with the right pieces, can lead you to a championship. 

Can Nelson provide that final "right piece?"

Ryan Anderson has been impressive this year, averaging 16 points and 7.8 boards per game. Between Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and J.J. Reddick, the Magic have been getting production from their wings, particularly form deep. 

The Magic don't need a lot from Nelson. They just need that extra "umph" that he can provide with a little bit of consistency. They don't need 25 a night from him, but 10 points and six assists isn't too much to ask. 

If Nelson can step up his game a little bit and the Magic can win the title, then maybe Howard starts to rethink leaving for Brooklyn.

It's hard to leave to be on a champion when you're already on one.