NBA Rumors: Josh Howard Signing Will Help Timberwolves Past Injuries

Kevin Coughlin@@KevCough63Correspondent INovember 15, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 07:  Josh Howard #8 of the Utah Jazz in action against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 7, 2012 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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In the wake of a wave of injuries, the Minnesota Timberwolves have signed veteran forward Josh Howard.

The move also comes amid criticism of 2011 No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams.

Derrick Williams has been given a golden opportunity to step up when his teammates needed him the most early this season, but he has struggled to do much with it,” wrote Dana Wessel of 1500 ESPN in Minnesota.

Howard joins a Minnesota team that is without key players such as Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Chase Budinger.  Without Kevin Love, Minnesota has turned to Williams to shoulder the load in the interim.

Early on this season, Williams has been unsuccessful in this role.  Compared to Love’s 26.0 average points per game a year ago, Williams has averaged just 8.8 this season. 

More of a role player, Howard brings just about the same numbers to the table—8.7 points per game and only 0.2 blocks per game compared to Williams’ 0.5 blocks.

It is interesting to consider the effect Josh Howard will have on this Timberwolves team, as there are so many holes to fill.

At first glance, Howard will likely be a replacement for Chase Budinger.  Howard’s ability to block does not necessarily stand up to Budinger’s, but he compensates with an average of 3.5 rebounds per game, which is similar to Budinger’s 3.7 rebounds.

With Rubio and Budinger still out indefinitely, and Love hopeful to return in December, Howard can be a band-aid for the Timberwolves defense going forward.

What is curious to me is how similar Howard and Derrick Williams are statistically.

As a power forward, it should be expected that Williams will grab more boards than Howard, but their similar point production suggests just how much Williams is struggling.

Certainly Howard can help Williams. He averages 1.6 assists per game, but right now, Williams does not have the hot hand—Dante Cunningham does.

The improvement is not dramatic—just a 0.3 difference per game—but in the month of November, Cunningham is making 52 percent of his field goals whereas Williams has hit just 32 percent of his.

If Cunningham begins to start over Williams, Love’s return could end Williams’ time in Minnesota.

There have already been trade talks circling around Williams and the first-round pick would absolutely yield value for a team that needs parts.  Josh Howard could prove the catalyst for these moves.