Dwight Howard has been working on his shot.
His 3-point shot that is.
The Hawks center appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Tuesday and said he has been working this offseason with his shooting coach in Atlanta to expand his game.
“I’ve been working on my 3’s, really trying to add some range to my game,” Howard said. “Which is going to be weird for people to see, I guess. They are used to seeing me in the paint battling. But in order for me to play longer, I have to expand my game. The game is not just back to the basket, get the ball in the post and go to work. It’s more stepping away from the basket, setting screens, popping, shooting 3’s and stuff like that. People haven’t seen me do that. It’s going to be an adjustment for me, but also the fans. I think it’s going to be fun.”
Howard noted that he and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan likely are the only remaining traditional centers in the NBA. The league is now focused on spreading the court and shooting 3-pointers – even the power forwards and centers.
Howard took two 3-point shots last season and missed both. For his 13-year career, Howard is 5-of-56 from 3-point range.
There were many games last season, including in the playoffs, when Howard was not on the floor in the fourth quarter as the Hawks looked for more floor spacing to generate 3-point shots. It was an issue and one Howard was not pleased with during his exit interview following the Hawks’ first-round playoff series loss to the Wizards.
“I think we have been left out to a certain extent,” Howard said of the traditional center. “The way the game has evolved, it’s really tough for traditional centers to get great playing time and be effective. So, we do have to change our game. … For us to stay in this league and be successful, we’ve got to be able to handle the basketball. We’ve got to be able to shoot the ball. Be able to play pick-and-roll against some of these guards.
“We have to be able to change our game or less we are going to be extinct.”
Howard related a story of guarding the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol this season to emphasis the difference in the league.
“I’m used to guys setting a screen and rolling to the basket. I get up and pressure the ball. I turn around to go to the basket and Marc is over there. By the time I turn around, he’s shooting the 3. Coach is like ‘Dwight!’ I’m like ‘Coach!’ It’s tough to guard, but that’s the way the game is moving forward.
“I came in guarding (Shaquille O’Neal), Alonzo Mourning, Jermaine O’Neal, all these big guys who want to wrestle. I’m used to wrestling. Now, I’ve got to get used to playing against guys who don’t want to wrestle, they want to get to the 3-point line.
New Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said last week he believes there is still a place for Howard with the team.