In LA, despite playing through injuries and having a "down" season in regards to his overall numbers, Howard still averaged 1.29 points per possession in pick-and-roll plays, while shooting 80%. On 69% of the plays when Howard received the ball after rolling off of a pick, he scored.
Last season, ran the 10th most in offensive sets where the post player got the ball off of a pick-and-roll, and this was with Omer Asik, who is not well-known for his ability to catch the ball.
Running the P&R with Howard would also open up more opportunities for Houston’s plethora of 3-point shooters to have wide-open shots as defenders would be forced to collapse in the paint to prevent Howard from having an easy bucket. Defenses would either have to give Howard a pretty open lane for him to drive towards the rim, or they’re going to have to cheat off the corner shooters, which will allow Parsons, Casspi, Garcia, Williams et al. some good looks from deep.
Look at the three-point percentages for the guys surrounding Dwight during that Orlando run to the Finals
Jameer Nelson - 45.3%
Courtney Lee - 40.4%
Rashard Lewis - 39.7%,
Anthony Johnson - 39.1%
J.J. Redick - 37.4%
In that season, Howard also led the NBA in offensive rebounds per game with 4.3.
The biggest question will be whether or not Howard is willing to buy into this kind of offensive system. My hope is that McHale will find a way to appease him by giving him good post-up opportunities (after he and Olajuwon teach him post moves), and in turn, Howard will be willing to run the pick-and-roll without complaint.
On the defensive end of the ball, the Rockets were at their worst, against pick-and-rolls and when post players had the ball down low, allowing 1.04 and .88 points per possession, respectively.
Asik gave up an average of 0.85 points when defending against low-post players. Howard, on the other hand, only allowed 0.58 points per possession when his opponent posted up on him, and 0.76 points when his man was the recipient of a pass off of the pick-and-roll. Asik’s inability to guard big men was something opposing teams exploited, posting up on him 40.6 percent of the time.
Howard didn’t lead the league in blocks last season, but there’s more to this than you might conclude. The mere presence of Howard in the paint discourages players from getting closer to the rim, giving him fewer opportunities to block shots, and this is statistically verified.
When any other defender was within five feet of the basket, the NBA took 57.2% of its shots. However, when Dwight Howard was the defender that percentage dropped to 48.2%. Asik was a solid defender last season, no doubt, but opponents took shots within five feet of the basket 58.8% of the time, and made 51.2% of those shots when he was on the court.