The Pros and Cons of the Josh Howard Signing

Remember when Josh Howard was an All-Star? Yeah, me neither. But he was. And it really wasn’t that long ago. In fact, it was only five years ago. In that season, Josh Howard averaged 19 points and 7 boards, then 20 points and 7 rebounds the next season. Then, in his last full season with Dallas, he averaged 18 and 5. Those are legitimate numbers, and if that last season with Dallas was last season, then this post wouldn’t be entitled “Pros and Cons,” but “How the Jazz Finally Signed a Coveted Player out of Free Agency.” Then again, if Howard had produced last season like his glory days in Dallas, the Jazz wouldn’t have been able to sign him.

So what happened? He got injured. Which isn’t anything new. Injuries have plagued him since that All-Star season. He hasn’t played 55 games in a season since the 07-08 season, and he only played in four games last year since he tore his ACL. Admittedly, the Jazz are taking a flier on a  player who had a PER of less than 10 last season, but the truth is, no one even knows if Howard is good anymore. He could regain some of his former game and bring 15 points and 5 boards to the table every night, or he could re-injure his knee and ride the pine for the rest of his one-year contract. Either way, there are some knowns about Howard’s game, and these are what I will address: the “basketball reasons” for signing Howard.

Pro: His position. The Jazz needed help from the small forward. With AK still in Russia, the Jazz had a gaping hole at the position. Hayward could/probably will play a large portion of his minutes at the three, but beyond him, Jeremy Evans was the only other SF option (and I know I’m assuming C.J. will not play the 3, but I like to live in a pretend-world where C.J. Miles does not get considerable minutes on an NBA team).

Pro: Experience. Howard has been to the Finals. Howard has played in the league for longer than half the roster combined, especially the other options for small forward: Evans, Hayward and Miles are all very young.

Pro: Rebounding from the 3. Howard has been a perennially good rebounder for his position. In fact, Howard’s career rebounding per 40 minute stats are better than LeBron James’s who is largely considered the best rebounder from the 3 in the league.

Pro: He takes care of the ball. In the 06-07 and 07-08 seasons, Howard led the league in turnover percentage–the same seasons in which he played the most minutes of his career.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of cons:

Con: He’s injury-prone, but we covered this earlier.

Con: He can’t shoot the three-ball. This is possibly the most aggravating aspect of the Jazz’s offseason acquisitions was the failure to pick up an elite shooter. Besides Gordon Hayward (who had a limited number of attempts), the Jazz did not have a single rotation player shoot over 40% from three last season. Not a single one. To put this in perspective, the Denver Nuggets who were barely a playoff team had three players with over 50 attempts. So what did the Jazz do in the offseason? They picked up a career 34% three-point shooter. Problem solved.

Con: He may have character issues.

In the end, taking a flier on a player always has the same dangers. Fortunately, this one is a one-year, low-risk (worst case scenario: he blows out his other ACL, gets busted for weed possession and then gets waived before season’s end, ending his career and opening up more minutes for the electrifying Evans), potentially high-reward flier (best case scenario: consistent rebounding, decent perimeter defense, bench scoring, a contract extension and general career redemption). If nothing else, I’m excited because I used to love watching the old Josh Howard play, and maybe, in the slim chance he can regain that form, I’ll get to watch it again–and that’s the greatest pro.

  1. Howard is another CJ miles dog. Will have some “big” moments (big meaning like 26 points) but overall will be inconsistent and ultimately irrelevant. Jazz suck, Josh Howard sucks, Ty Corbin sucks. Its gonna be a long, frustrating season for a Jazz fan. Join the light, that is the Miami Heat.

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