Not that we need another way to say the Magic would be desperate without Dwight Howard. As far as the Magic are concerned Dwight Howard is the most important player on the team. The offense and defense are built upon Howard and his abilities. The 3-point shooting is based on team's doubling Howard and the league's third best defense was based on funneling players to Howard and Howard's mere presence keeping teams from getting into the paint.
The MVP debate seemed to center on the statistical impact Howard had on the court compared to the lesser impact Derrick Rose had on the court. It seemed no matter how you broke down the statistics, Howard impacted more possessions for the Magic than Derrick Rose did for the Bulls. However, Rose was the best player on the best team and had the highlights to go with it. He passed the eye test and won the MVP award.
That is not to say Rose is not valuable. He has proven himself time and again in the postseason. But you cannot blame Magic fans for saying without Howard the Magic are not anywhere near the level they were at or even have a shot at advancing out of the first round -- much less the title aspirations the team espoused.
David Berri of Wages of Wins tried to determine who the most productive player was for each team. Some of the results were surprising -- Landry Fields for the Knicks? Marcus Camby for the Trail Blazers? Jason Kidd for the Mavericks over Dirk Nowitzki? But one thing was pretty certain: Dwight Howard was very productive for the Magic and very important to their team's success.
In this sense, Howard was certainly more valuable than Derrick Rose.
According to Berri's numbers, the Bulls would have done the best if their most productive player, Rose, were replaced with an average player. Berri's numbers suggest the Bulls would have a wins produced of 55.5 if Rose were replaced with an average player. It seems then Rose more puts the Bulls over the top than he is the sole reason for their success. Chicago is not a championship team without Rose, but the team could still be pretty good if you put an average player in there.
Howard on the other hand, had a big impact on his team.
According to Berri, Howard had a .389 wins produced per 48 minutes and he had 23.8 wins produced this season. Both of those numbers were the highest among all the most productive players Berri named. Without Howard and with an average player, Berri has the Magic producing 38.1 wins compared to the 55.8 wins the team produced this season.
That is a 31.7 percent decrease. It is not quite the 80-plus percent decrease the Timberwolves would lose if Kevin Love were taken off the team -- they would only produce 2.9 wins if he were replaced with an average player. But that decrease is still pretty significant.
Howard clearly had a lot of value for the Magic. Calling him most valuable might be wrong, but he was definitely the most productive compared to his teammates among the other "contenders."
And that is where the Magic really stand right now. Everyone recognizes how important Howard is to the Magic. Little is going to change. The key is getting other players to produce at a higher rate and to provide Howard with more assistance. Everyone recognizes this as the goal for the summer.
These numbers show just what a special season Howard had and how much help he still needs.
Photo via DayLife.com.