Soon after the Dwight signing, twitter blewup with speculation of a possible Omer Asik for Ryan Anderson trade, although never really confirmed by either side, the blogosphere continues on with the "I can't believe this deal hasn't happened like yesterday" narrative.
But as most folks (this side of Sir Charles Barkley) have probably realized by now, Daryl Morey is really smart, and he knows what he's doing, even if he express some doubts on the Asik / Dwight combo from working together, he did not pull the trigger on this seemingly no brainer deal, why?
This fan post would be a small brief look into some statistical reasons that may have showed that this deal was either not nearly as "no brainer" afterall, or even that it's a no brainer in that Houston would be idiotic to do it.
But before we get to the stats part, there are a couple of external factors of this trade not going down such as the simple issue that In division trade is not that common, especially when both team have playoff aspiration. We can argue if this is stupid of not (it kinda is.) but it's simply how much sports team operate, not just in basketball but in other sports too.
.On the statistical side, we can see quite a few reason why this may not make that much sense as well.
1. Ryan Anderson regressed last year: no matter what # you look at, he regressed significantly , his PER dropped back to where he was 3 years ago, and that was the least of the problem, his Winshare dipped down by nearly 40% (still good, but not nearly as good). and most damningly. Plus Minus based stats like RAPM or ASPM killed him hard, in RAPM he rated the same as Jeremy Lin at 0.4. in ASPM he ranked worse than Lin .
On a more substantial aspect, Anderson became less efficient last year, his true shooting percentage went from a great .589 to a merely good .548. He took more shots but drew less fouls, and generally everything else (rebounding / assist / turnovers etc) slipped a little bit. It bears reminding that Dwight Howard at his best was probably one of the rare players who REALLY made guys around him better. and not just in a cliche way (in reality, most NBA players hardly changes when they change team, only true top 5 guys like Lebron / Paul have the ability to actually change people's performance noticeably on the stats sheet. Dwight before last year was like that.)
2. Omer Asik was much better than most people seem to realize: RAPM is especially telling, as it had Asik as a top 15 NBA player in terms of raw positive effect on the court, granted, that may be over the top, but looking at real unadjusted Plus Minus he was twice as good as Harden in that sense. though that probably speaks more of the drop off between running a defense around Greg Smith / Cole Aldrich versus running an offense around Jeremy Lin. But either way, it's not hard to make a very solid argument that Asik was really really good.
3. Ryan Anderson 's playoff performance is exceedingly bad.
This is a very important part that I think most folks arguing for this trade completely missed. Ryan Anderson has been bad in the playoffs, and he has a pretty large sample size for a 24-25 year old player, in 400 minutes in the playoffs, his triple slash is .311/.344/.929 . that is not a typo, he nearly fell under 30% from the field. his scoring per 36 went from a typical 17-19 ish on Orlando to 8 in the playoffs (best season was 10.) It's one thing to be bad in one year, that could easily be fluke / luck / sample size / injury, but all 3???
This perhaps goes back to the point we seen in the playoffs strongly this year, that specialist are easily game planned against and taken away by smart teams. we saw this with Tony Allen / Tiago Splitter / Danny Green (check out what he did after that crazy game 5 against the Heat.) / Udonis Haslem etc... guys who are too one dimensional are often at risk of smart game planning in the playoffs, Ryan Anderson seem to be an strong example of this.
4. Omer Asik's playoff performance this year was actually AWESOME.
If you watch from a more neutral perspective and didn't see the regular season at all, don't know the players at all this playoff round against OKC, you probably came away with the notion that he best Rocket player was Omer Asik, he had the highest Winshare / 48 by a considerable margin, where as almost everyone else regressed in shooting efficiency versus the tenacious thunder D, (Harden went from .600 TS to 550, Parsons from 585 to 550, Beverley from 550 to 520, Asik actually went up to a Greg Smithian level of .620. while his minutes went up.
The on / off stats in BR , which already had Asik as the best Rocket starter for the regular season at +7, was a HILARIOUS + 30 in that series, yes, +30!!!!! (though Harden was also epic at +29)
Granted, 1 series is at serious risk of small sample size, but that was certainly better than any series Ryan Anderson's played in the playoffs.
So looking at it, we reach the conclusion that Asik was insanely good last year for this team, we literally couldn't play defense without him, meanwhile, we did have a top 5 offense without Dwight, it's hard to think that with another year of experience , + Dwight + healthy Lin for a year etc that we could be worse, the marginal utility Anderson brings is limited, and seems mostly in the regular season anyway. Although some may argue that in the playoffs, the Asik / Dwight lineup is even less likely to work, and Dwight would play more minutes, one has to remember the fact also that in his entire career Dwight Howard has reached 5 fouls or more in playoffs HALF of the games he played in. and even if you just give 8-10 minutes without Dwight in a game, your toast. this goes a long way into understanding why Morey is probably not trading Asik.
And another way to look at it is relative risk, if we do trade away Omer, and Dwight gets hurt, that could legitimately sink our season even in the regular season if only because our defense could be so bad that it negates all our offensive positive. However, with Omer , this risk is removed, even if Dwight miss the whole season (god forbid) we probably still be around the 6th seed.
This is not to say that Asik would surely play out his contract in Houston, but it goes a way into realizing why Morey is not in a hurry to pull the trigger on the seemingly "no brainer" deal