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Howard improved massively on offense in 2005-06, slashing his turnovers while upping his scoring and Usage Rate significantly. Chief among the upgrades to Howard's game was his suddenly-deadly shooting stroke—while his eFG% on jumpers was a paltry .396 in 2005, it was .448 in '06—and that coupled with much better 3-point range (a stellar .429 3P%) to make defenses have to respect him even more. As a result, he could drive whenever he wanted and got to the line far more frequently—providing a much-needed extra scoring option behind Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
Defense & Rebounding
Even though he increased his focus on offense last year, Howard's defense remains top-notch. He has quick feet and very long arms, and can defend just about any player in the league out on the perimeter. It's no coincidence that his emergence as a defensive stopper came just as Dallas' defense started to drastically improve over the past few seasons; he's the real deal defensively. Howard is a good rebounder for a small forward as well, using his length to snatch down balls that other SF's can't reach.
While Dirk was obviously Dallas' MVP, Howard just may have been the Mavs' Most Important Player during their Finals run. Much was made of Dallas' record (25-0) when Howard scores 20 or more points, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Howard's all-around ability gave Avery Johnson the freedom to experiment in other areas (a Harris-Terry backcourt, for instance), because he knew that Howard's ability to defend could cover a multitude of mistakes. In addition, his cheap rookie contract ($873,880 in 2006) gave Dallas payroll flexibility. All in all, Howard was one of the 35 best players in basketball a year ago, a great bargain, and he should continue to improve in 2007.
|Will...||Do anything and everything the team needs|
|Don't Expect...||A regression in 2007|