Dwight Howard and 10 Players the Nets Should Target to Pair with Deron Williams
What do the New Jersey Nets do now that they have Deron Williams for at least the next year and a half?
The plan is to pair him up with another marquee free agent in the upcoming free agency period or acquire a superstar through trade.
The question is: which player would most entice Williams to keep him with the Nets?
More importantly, who will be able to usher in a new age of basketball when the Nets finally move to Brooklyn?
10. Yao Ming
I realize that Yao Ming will probably never be the kind of player that once averaged 25 PPG.
But if Yao manages to get somewhat healthy after suffering a stress fracture of the ankle and produce at least half the number that he did pre-injury, even then he could be a very solid backup option for any team in the league.
The odds on this however, are very slim.
Žydrunas Ilgauskas, a fellow over-seven-footer, had managed to overcome early career foot troubles, but Yao is 30 years old and his rehabilitation will be difficult because of that.
However, the chance and hope is still there.
Yao becomes an unrestricted free-agent after this season and there is no guarantee that the Houston Rockets would resign him. Depending on the progress of his recovery, Yao most likely won’t demand huge money once he becomes a free agent.
Acquiring Yao would certainly be a huge gamble for the Nets, but why not try something grandiose if you’re trying to keep Williams in town?
9. Danilo Gallinari
New York. New York.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Danilo Gallinari was back in New York? And I'm not talking about when the Denver Nuggets come to town.
Gallinari will never be a superstar, but I’m sure Deron Williams would love to play with a forward that puts up 16.1 PPG, 5.1 RPB, and almost a steal per game, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the three-point line.
If not for his on-court prowess, the Nets could certainly use Gallinari as a way to draw some of the Knicks fan base to Brooklyn, because I’m sure there are Knicks fans who were sad to see Gallo go, even if that meant acquiring Carmelo Anthony.
8. David West
David West has shown that he can play and thrive along a slashing type of a point guard. In the six years that West has been playing alongside Chris Paul, West maintained a scoring average between 18 and 19.6 PPG.
West will turn 31 in late August, a signifier that his production should dip, as most players production starts to decline once they’re on the wrong side of 30.
West should still be able to average close to the numbers that he’s putting up now, since NBA big men age more gracefully than guards and wing players.
A hurdle for the Nets in signing West could be his desire to exercise his early termination option with the New Orleans Hornets.
The uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the future of 2011-12 season could force West to play conservatively and play out the last years of his contract in NOLA.
The Nets will just have to take a wait-and-see approach.
7. Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph is another big man that has been popping up on my lists of players the Nets could acquire.
Randolph is probably not the kind of superstar that Deron Williams imagines to be playing along side of and winning championship rings, but I see Randolph as an inside compliment for Williams’ outside game that will solidify the Nets’ frontcourt.
Besides, with Randolph manning the middle, the Nets could be enticed to part ways with Brook Lopez in order to get the kind of star player they imagine will play alongside Williams.
Although I would give Lopez a little more time to see how he’ll play with Williams after an offseason to mesh into the system.
6. Thaddeus Young
While the Nets have given up a young and promising forward in Derrick Favors in order to acquire Deron Williams, an opportunity to snag one for themselves might be just around the corner.
At 6’8” and 220 lbs, Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young is strong enough to play both forward spots—and the Nets do need help in that area since the signing of Travis Outlaw hasn’t exactly panned out and starting Kris Humphries at the four is not an optimal solution.
Young’s production has regressed this season, but that is mainly due to the decreased minutes because of the 76ers ample supply of young players.
Despite playing just 26.1 MPG, Young is averaging 12.6 PPG, which is just 1.2 points below what he averaged last season in 32 MPG.
Plus, Young has maintained an average of 5.2 RPG despite the decrease in minutes.
This just goes to show you that Young is still producing despite seeing limited action.
And he’s still 22 years old.
Why do the Nets have a chance to sign such a promising player?
Given the 76ers financial woes, it’s doubtful that they will be able to keep all of their talent.
5. Nick Young
Give a fourth year player a decent amount of playing time and what do you get? You get Nick Young of the Washington Wizards.
Young went from averaging 8.6 PPG in 19.2 MPG last season, to averaging 18 PPG in 32.1 MPG this season.
Young is scoring a lot while shooting almost 45 percent from the field and more than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Young doesn’t really do much except score, but what would you expect from someone playing on the lowly Wizards?
The Nets have Kris Humphries for all of their blue-color work.
4. Andrew Bynum
It’s no secret that the Lakers are getting old and while they are still one of the top teams to beat, they will surely be looking to retool their aging core.
Andrew Bynum is not the aging player that the Lakers would like to trade in order to get young, but he might be their best trading chip in order to get a young prospect and/or draft picks in return.
A lottery pick in 2005, Bynum has been mostly solid, but has yet to break out of his shell. The perceived lack of aggression might be the reason why Bynum is yet to have a breakout season.
However, the same could also be said of playing along side Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
Bynum is still 23-years-old and his prime years are ahead of him.
This is why I think reuniting Bynum with Williams, a fellow member of the 2005 Draft, would be beneficial to Bynum’s improvement.
3. Kevin Love
Kevin Love is a great player, but even a great player can only take losing for so long.
While it’s too early for Love to start wondering about how long the Minnesota Timberwolves will keep losing, the thought must still pop up in his mind once in a while.
Love keeps fans in amazement as he puts up 20.9 PPG and 15.7 RPG, but he could be contributing so much more for a contender.
Instead, he’s a star on a team that is going nowhere.
If Love could be simply inserted into the Nets lineup as a free-agent, then the Nets would become automatic contenders.
For all the rebounds that Kris Humphries gathers, he simply doesn’t have Love’s scoring touch.
If not a trade, the Nets would have to wait until after next season to pry Love away from the T’Wolves.
Love, just like Kevin Garnett, is a classy guy and will always give his all in order for this team to win.
I just hope that he, unlike Garnett, realizes when it’s the right time to abandon his ship.
2. Chris Paul
Call me crazy, but I think that a back court tandem of Deron Williams and Chris Paul would actually work.
Now, getting the two to play for the same team, besides the annual pairing during the All-Start game, is the difficult part.
Despite being a bit undersized for a back court combo: Williams 6’3” and Chris Paul 6’0'', I still think that the pairing could work.
Williams is strong enough to play opposing shooting guards and playing the two will increase his steals.
The rest of the team would have to play as a cohesive defensive unit in order for the pairing to work since there are more opportunities for defensive mismatches on screens and pick and rolls.
It seems unorthodox, but don’t tell me that this wouldn’t work.
1. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is an obvious choice to pair up with Deron Williams.
For a strong point guard like Williams, who often likes to break down opponents' defenses, playing alongside Howard would present a perfect opportunity to drop off a pass when a double team converges.
At the same time, playing with Howard would keep defenses honest and would not allow the opposing big man to come over from the weak side for the fear of leaving Howard open for an easy lay-in or a rim-rocking slam.
While there is already talk of Howard bolting from Orlando—ala Shaquille O’Neal in 1996—Howard has been keeping mum about his plans to exercise his early termination option after next season.
“Yeah, I am annoyed,” says Howard. “I can't sign a contract this year. I can't sign anywhere this summer, so why keep bringing it up?"Howard said on Feb. 9 to reporters after practice. "Why are people talking about me going any other place right now? Right now is about this season. It's not about L.A., New York or whatever. I'm really tired of it. I don't wanna be talking about where I'm gonna be playing basketball next or people in Orlando asking me ‘Are you going to leave us?'"
During the summer of 1996, O’Neal bolted Orlando for the bright lights of Los Angeles and the purple and gold of the Laker.
Orlando fans are probably biting their nails when they hear all the talk about Howard possibly opting out of his contract after next season and bolting for LA.
Howard, however, might not be making that cross country trip after all.
I’d imagine that in a year or two Kobe Bryant’s body will finally betray him.
At 32, Bryant has played roughly the same amount of games as the 35-year old Ray Allen.
Add on top of that all of the playoff games that Bryant has played over his career and you get a player that is due to breakdown any moment now.
By then, the Lakers will most likely be in a quasi-rebuilding mode, which means that the Lakers will be competitive, but they won’t be close to competing for the NBA crown.
I highly doubt that Howard would want to play on a team with an ancient Kobe and two big men that would compete for his minutes: Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The Nets are rebuilding now, and as much as I like Brook Lopez, the addition of Howard would virtuallypropel the Nets into the stratosphere of the Eastern Conference.