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Houston Rockets 2015-2016 Player Profile: Dwight Howard

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Mar 25, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Rockets defeated the Pelicans 95-93. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2015-2016 Player Profile: Dwight Howard, Center

After a tough playoff run last season, Dwight Howard had a busy summer a head of him before preparing for the 2015-2016 campaign. Unfortunately Houston’s big man was only able to play in half of the team’s games last season, limiting the team’s success without him. The Rockets will need a long and healthy season from Howard if they plan on reaching the goal of an NBA Championship this season.

Howard was spotted all over the place this summer including USA mini-camp, helping his numerous foundations, putting on basketball camps and so much more. On top of that he had to get acclimated with his new teammates, the rookies and free agents, as well as spend a little time with his family to relax.

Apr 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After putting legal issues and knee problems in the rear view mirror, Howard looks ready to attack this season with championship aspirations. He is surrounded by a stellar team in which he is a main focus, so the Rockets will look to him for big plays and games this year.

Stick around because next we’ll examine his production last season, take a look at what he spent his time on over the summer and then preview Howard’s upcoming season here on Howard’s Player Profile.

Next: Howard's Trophies...

Mar 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 120 to 110. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard’s 2015-2016 Accomplishments

As mentioned, ‘Superman’ for the Rockets was hit with kryptonite as he was only able to play 41 games with lingering knee issues this past season. It put a lot of pressure on Donatas Motiejuans to step up and play center for Houston for a large portion of the season. Luckily Motiejunas was up for the challenge and held down the position until Howard was able to return.

In 41 games in the 2014-2015 season: 15.8 PPG 10.5 RPG 1.2 APG 1.3 BPG

Howard shot .593 which is tied for the 4th best shooting season of his career from the field. His stats don’t show how much the Rockets missed having his presence on the court. The way he disrupts shots in the paint and gathers rebounds on both ends of the court are why the Rockets still have major faith in Dwight.

Plus once he was rolling and the Rockets entered the playoffs his numbers increased to 16.4 PPG, 14.0 RPG and 2.3 BPG. For 17 playoff games, he also had to battle with Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Andrew Bogut, all of which needed to get under his skin to stop him.

The 12-year veteran still averages a double-double and can help this team reach the Western Conference Finals again…and hopefully further in 2016.

Next: An Exciting Off-Season

May 21, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks to score a basket against the Golden State Warriors during the second half in game two of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Off-Season Personal Accomplishments for Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard had some of the more interesting story-lines throughout the league this off-season, including a shoe deal, a gun in the airport and an invitation to camp.

In August, USA Basketball officials decided that every player that wanted to play for the team heading to Rio for the Olympics next summer needed to be at the mini-camp in Las Vegas. So during August, Howard met up with James Harden and the rest of the NBA’s best to participate in a 3-day camp. He didn’t play in the scrimmages, but with a good, healthy season this year, Howard may earn himself a spot on that roster.

After his career-long tenure in Adidas basketball shoes, Howard finally moved on from the brand and picked up with a new, overseas company. Howard signed with Peak, a brand from China that already houses stars such as Tony Parker and George Hill. It was a surprise that Howard wanted to leave a mecca, but everyone wants to find their own niche now-a-days, so it’s not quite as overwhelming as a different Rocket who switched shoe brands this off-season.

In case you missed it, @DwightHoward debuted two different versions of the PEAK DH1. https://t.co/FeszAh021a

— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) September 13, 2015

Later in the summer Howard was dismissed of any charges relating to a ‘possession of a firearm’ incident from a while back. In early September the Rockets center tried to board a plane at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport, where security found a pistol in his carry-on bag. He was detained, but after the paperwork and everything was settled a Houston Police Dept. spokesman said that, “This isn’t unusual (in Texas),” and Howard was never charged. On a better note, he held movie nights and field trips for his foundations, Breathe Again and the D12 Foundation. In September he also held his summer basketball camp, presented by Pro Camps, here in Houston.

.@DwightHoward & the @d12foundation are hosting basketball camp today. pic.twitter.com/eDnsyBWWeQ — Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) September 19, 2015

Howard has been a busy man over the summer, but now that training camp is here, he is focused and prepared for the #Pursuit!

Next: How is Howard Still Dominant?

Nov 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks the ball during the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Superman’s Strengths

By now everyone knows what Dwight Howard is good at, the man is almost 7 feet tall and can jump out of the building when healthy. Despite that Howard continues to work on improving parts of his game:

Interior Defense: He makes a ton of difference when he is on the court for defensive purposes, Howard blocks shots left and right and has never gone a season without averaging a block per game. Howard helps relieve pressure on guards like Patrick Beverley who can play up close on an opposing guard, knowing they have the big man behind them to help.

Turnovers: Not that he has been the greatest at holding onto the ball, but since his younger years Howard has made much improvement as far as his passing and getting the ball to the open man.

In 2014-2015 he had his 3rd lowest amount of turnovers per game at 2.8, of note he only had less in his first two seasons in the league.

Plus, there are still nights when other teams have to double-team him and he has to know how to use his whole team to his advantage.

Coaching: This is the first time in Howard’s career where he has a younger player on his team that plays his position and is willing to watch and learn from him. Clint Capela is a smart, but really young player that can take so much away from the way Howard plays defense.

This season I see Dwight playing a coaching role on the bench a lot more than the past, a lot of that stemming from his time spent on the bench this season with the injuries.

Rebounding: For those who aren’t quite acquainted with Houston’s center, one thing he does very well is rebound the basketball. On offense and particularly on defense, Howard is a monster on the boards. He can’t be boxed out by smaller defenders and bigger defenders don’t have a chance with his athleticism.

It is what it is with his free throws at this point in his career, hopefully he can continue to to try to improve, but don’t hold your breath for 10 straight makes this season. Regardless, Howard is still a top 5 center and according to Sports Illustrated’s recent rankings he is a top 20 player in the league(19).

Next: How Does This Season Look for Howard?

Sep 28, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during media day at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard’s 2015-2016 Outlook

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We finish this preview with a look at Howard’s upcoming season and what we can expect from him. Optimistically we hope Howard can play 75 of Houston’s 82 games with a few games for rest and maybe a suspension for a flagrant or something.

We never know about injuries obviously, but after participating at the mini-camp and being fully present at the Rockets first few days of training camp, Howard looks good to go for the season.

Houston will be without Donatas Motiejunas for a little bit as he continues battling his back injury, which will make Dwight’s job harder. When the Rockets play against any division opponent, they will have to determine match-ups on a game by game basis until D-Mo returns. Terrence Jones has made strides, but Howard can’t pick up all that slack by himself.

Media Day 2015 – Dwight Howard http://t.co/acTLA8WxnN via @houstonrockets

— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) September 29, 2015

Even at 100% health all season, I don’t think Howard would put up 20 points and 13 rebounds a night, but we could be looking at last season’s sample of 16-18 points and 11 boards per game. His defense and presence are extremely important and he will need to be on the court for Houston to make a run.

A lot of experts and analysts say he is on the decline, but you won’t have to thank me when you are picking him up on your fantasy team in the next few months!

Follow me on Twitter at @SportsUpdatesTO and stick with @SpaceCity_Scoop on Twitter, Facebook and online for all of our around the clock Houston Rockets coverage!

Next: Profile on the Rockets Most Valuable Player

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