Two years removed from a back surgery that limited his explosion in the paint, Rockets center Dwight Howard told reporters he's made significant strides over the offseason to return to a high level of play heading into the new season, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"When you have a serious injury – the back injury I suffered, it takes time to heal," Howard said. "I don't think a lot of people understood how serious the injury was. It was something that could have been career-ending. I decided to come back and play earlier than I was supposed to and I suffered a lot because of that."

Howard still managed to average a double-double in 2013-14, posting 47 of them in his first season with the Rockets. He averaged 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 71 appearances. He shot 59.1 percent from the field and 54.7 percent from the free throw line -- his best percentages since 2010-11 when he was a member of the Magic.

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