Apr 24, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the game against the Dallas Mavericks in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, first things first, Howard needs to stay healthy. Not saying that his injuries from this season will linger on, but Houston fans are all to familiar with the likes of Yao Ming in the past. Not to many ways he can prevent a knee or ankle injury, but staying healthy will have to be a number one priority for the Rocket’s big man if Houston plans on contending again.
Once again, his maturity will also have to be brought up because he knows people are gunning for him. Some still think he is “soft” and can’t bang with some of the hard-nosed guys in the NBA, but I haven’t heard too many of those guys talking down on Howard either. Kobe doesn’t have to guard him, Kevin Garnett (another “hater” of Howard) can’t guard him and the people that do think they can, they end up fouling out or getting flagrants and technical.
If you can’t beat him, jump on him and hope he doesn’t get the rebound!
All jokes aside, Dwight Howard has been a huge improvement to the team since he joined the Houston Rockets. He has two more years on his contract before he is a un-restricted free agent in 2017. The Rockets front office plans on building this team to it’s highest potential while Howard and James Harden are under contract.
He will also have a little more help in the future. Last year’s first-round pick Clint Capela will have a full season under his belt where he actually didn’t play to bad at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Donatas Motiejunas had a back injury, and/or fatigue, to finish his season before the playoffs started. Having these two guys healthy next season can really help take some pressure off of Howard when he isn’t in the game.
Another Rocket’s player to keep any eye on will be Dwight’s longtime friend Josh Smith. J-Smoove came up big for Houston in some of the playoff games. He is free to leave and take a bigger contract elsewhere, but at this point in his career, he needs to look for where next year’s championship trophy will be headed. Houston is more than likely Smith’s best bet, he now knows the system Coach McHale wants him in and let’s face it, alley-oops from Smith to Howard were some of the most exciting plays of the season.
I predict that Dwight Howard will have a clean, healthy season in 2015-2016 where he will make the All-Star team and gets the Rockets to at least the third round of the playoffs. He is a top 3, if not the best, center in the NBA and next year he will go back to proving that.
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