Houston Receives: Greg Monroe, O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez, Miles Plumlee
Milwaukee Receives: Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson
Houston is not nearly the same team they have been in the past few years. After being a top team in a stacked Western Conference the past few seasons, the Rockets are now 12-14 in a much weaker Western Conference this year. Whether or not it is the fault of Lawson and Howard, something has to change, and it wasn’t firing head coach Kevin McHale.
Lawson is having a horrible season. After trading four rotational players for him during the offseason, Lawson is averaging just 6.2 points and 4.2 assists per game on 33.5% shooting. He has an offensive rating of just 92 and a horrible defensive rating of 112. This is one season after he averaged 15.2 points per ger game on 43.6% shooting, and had a 3rd in the league 9.6 assists per game. Lawson needs a change.
Dwight Howard is also not at his best. His rebounding is still good(11.6 per game), but his points per game (12.6) and defensive rating (104) are the worst since his rookie season. There has been numerous reports that he is unhappy in Houston, and that the Rockets (and James Harden) are unhappy with him. Whenever Howard has been unhappy in the past, it has always led to him finding a new team.
Getting rid of Howard also opens the door for Clint Capela, who has had a break out season. Capela is averaging 14.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 assists per 36 minutes. He is shooting an excellent 60.8% from the field, has the best offensive and defensive ratings on the team of players who have played more than 6 minutes total, and he is second on Houston in win shares per 48 minutes behind superstar James Harden. It is time for Houston to move on from Howard to Capela.
These players that Houston would be receiving are also great. O.J. Mayo has not lived up to the expectations his high school basketball play set, but he has been a great role player for the Bucks, and has averaged as high as 18.5 points per game. Mayo’s career 37.5 three point percentage is analytics friendly, which analytics guru Daryl Morey will not overlook.
Greg Monroe is the center piece of the package Milwaukee would send. He is averaging a near double-double with 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, and he leads Milwaukee in win shares with 2.6 (.7 higher than the next player.) He is much less mercurial than Dwight Howard, which is something a struggling team needs. He would also complement the still-raw Clint Capela well offensively.
Greivis Vasquez could be the play-maker Lawson never was. Vasquez has averaged as many as 9.0 assists per game, and he is averaging a solid 4.4 in 22.6 minutes per game this season. He recently suffered a bone injury, and will miss a few months, but he is still an effective player.
Miles Plumlee won’t likely have too much of a role on Houston, but if he is called upon, he averged a decent 8.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game back in 2014.
A starting five of Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Greg Monroe, and Clint Capela has a lot of potential. A bench of Vasquez, Mayo, Marcus Thornton, K.J. McDaniels, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Donatas Motiejunas, and Terrence Jones is immediately a top five bench in the league.
The Bucks are in a similar situation to Houston. They made the playoffs last season, but after a big acquisition of Greg Monroe and the return of Jabari Parker, Milwaukee is still third-worst in the East at 10-16, and they are last in the Central Division. Although Howard and Lawson are having poor seasons (relatively for Howard,) they are still very talented players who could thrive under player-friendly coach Jason Kidd.
Milwaukee is 28th in defensive rating and 26th in offensive rating. Howard will make both of those stats improve drastically, as he is a shot-blocking presence who gets high percentage shots around the rim on offense. Howard in the post will also open things up for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Khris Middleton on the perimeter.
Milwaukee needs a point guard badly. While Houston had James Harden do most of the ball handling, Milwaukee has nobody playing well at point guard. Michael Carter-Williams has been much better on the bench, and no one else on the team is a true point guard. Brandon Knight thrived under Jason Kidd while he (Knight) was in Milwaukee, and Lawson is a very similar player.
A Lawson, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Parker, Howard starting five has no holes in it, and that is a very dominant group if each player plays to their potential. Michael Carter-Williams, Jerryd Bayless, Rashad Vaughn, and John Henson off the bench will hold their own against most teams.