Dwight Howard managed to stay mostly healthy in 2015-16, but he saw his numbers dip for the third straight season as he hits his 30s. Howard didn't necessarily play much worse last season, as he still shot 62.0 percent from the field, still got to the free-throw line plenty and still racked up big rebounding totals. However, his role in Houston's offense continued to decline, as his scoring average fell to 13.7 points per game, his lowest since he was a rookie. Howard's time in Houston came to an unsurprising end in free agency, but his decision to sign with the Hawks did come as something of a shock. The Hawks could look to feature Howard more in the offense than the Rockets did, especially given the departures of Jeff Teague and Al Horford this offseason, but it is fair to wonder if Howard is still capable of shouldering a heavy load on offense like in days past. Still, it isn't unreasonable to expect some improvement, and Howard is worth targeting in the middle rounds as a bounce-back candidate and starting-caliber Fantasy center.
Howard registered 16 points (5-11 FG, 6-9 FT), 15 rebounds, three assists and a block over 29 minutes in Thursday's 97-81 preseason victory over the Bulls. Howard heads into the regular season on the strength of back-to-back double-doubles after also having accomplished the feat against the Pelicans on Tuesday. The veteran big man also turned in a 26-point effort earlier in preseason, so he looks prepared to build on what was the second-lowest scoring average (13.7) of his career last season.
Howard registered 10 points (3-10 FG, 4-10 FT), 11 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists across 24 minutes in Tuesday's 96-89 preseason win over the Pelicans. Howard struggled to convert on his opportunities near the basket and at the free-throw line, but exerted his will on the defensive end, leading to a well-rounded stat line. There's some concern how Howard and Paul Millsap will adapt to playing alongside one another, and even though the duo combined to go 4-for-17 from the field Tuesday, it's expected that they'll develop some continuity eventually. Regardless if Howard's efficiency suffers as a result, he'll still likely be in line for an uptick in scoring after he averaged just 13.7 points per game with the Rockets last season, his worst mark since his rookie year.
Howard (rest) will not be available for Sunday's preseason tilt with the Magic, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Howard will join Dennis Schroder, Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore as players getting the night off for rest Sunday. In his place, look for the likes of Mike Muscala, Walter Tavares and Kris Humphries to potentially see additional minutes at center. Howard's next opportunity to play will be Tuesday versus the Pelicans.
Howard notched 15 points (7-11 FG, 1-3 FT), nine rebounds, three blocks and one assist across 28 minutes before fouling out of Thursday's 99-94 preseason loss to the Pistons. While foul trouble has plagued him in all three of his preseason appearances, Howard has performed well during his time on the court, averaging 15.6 points (on 63.6% shooting), 8.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 assist in 23.3 minutes per game. If he can rein in the fouls during the regular season, Howard has a good chance at pushing for over 30 minutes on most occasions, which would be beneficial to his overall stat line. He may not notice much more growth in the points column, however, as all of his outings to date have come without Paul Millsap (knee, illness), who is expected to be the Hawks' go-to scorer in the frontcourt once he returns to action.
Howard finished with 26 points (11-15 FG, 4-9 FT), eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists in Monday's win over the Cavaliers. Howard took advantage of the Cavaliers resting a number of regulars and got off to a strong start, putting up 23 of his 26 points in the first half alone. Preseason results should almost always be taken with a grain of salt, but it was nonetheless an encouraging night for Howard as he adjusts to his new surroundings.
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