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5 Ways Dwight Howard Can Elevate the Orlando Magic to Title Contenders

Eddie WaltersAnalyst IISeptember 20, 2011

5 Ways Dwight Howard Can Elevate the Orlando Magic to Title Contenders

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    Regardless of all the trade speculation surrounding Dwight Howard, Howard will be a member of the Orlando Magic in 2011. If Superman can touch upon these five areas of his game, the Orlando Magic will inch closer to their quest for an NBA title.

    Howard has grown into the most dominating center in the NBA, and in the process, has led the Magic to at least 52 wins in each of the last four seasons, including an appearance in the finals just two seasons ago.

    The Magic have become an elite NBA team the past few seasons, though recently, they have taken a step in the wrong direction.

    The Magic were eliminated in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Orlando's earliest departure from the playoffs since 2006.

    Regardless of what players currently surround Howard on the Magic, Howard himself can make Orlando a much better team by simply improving certain aspects of his own game.  

5. Improve at the Free-Throw Line

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    Dwight Howard's free-throw shooting has been atrocious ever since he stepped foot on an NBA court. 

    Actually, Howard's free-throw shooting from last season (59 percent) was worse than that of his rookie year when he shot 67 percent from the line.

    Howard led the NBA in free-throw attempts in 2011 with 916; the problem is he only hit 546 of those shots. 

    That's 370 points that Howard left on the court last season.

    If Howard could just up his yearly free-throw average to 70 or 75 percent, the Orlando Magic would win more games, plain and simple.

4. Continue To Develop the Jump Shot

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    Dwight Howard first tried out his mid-range jump shot back in 2009, but after a few failed attempts, the shot was seemingly shut down for the remainder of the season. 

    During the 2010 season, however, Howard found more success with his jumper and knocked it down sporadically throughout the entire season. 

    If Howard can continue to develop his mid-range game and add a consistent jump shot to his arsenal of offensive weapons, Howard would become nearly impossible to defend. 

3. Cut Back on Turnovers

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    Dwight Howard turns the ball over quite often.

    When defenders force the big man to put the ball on the floor, Howard often gets flustered and bad things happen. Whether it's dribbling the ball off his foot or simply having the ball swiped away from his possession, the ball is never safe when Howard puts it on the floor. 

    Howard committed 279 turnovers during the 2010 season, averaging over 3.5 turnovers per game. 

    Turnovers kill an offense. It's not only the Orlando Magic losing out on a possession, but it's the opposing team gaining one. 

    If Howard can cut back on his turnovers, the Orlando Magic as a team will gain control of the ball more— enhancing their scoring opportunities. 

2. Passing out of the Double-Team

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    Dwight Howard sees as many double-teams as any other player in the NBA, if not more. When these double-teams come, Howard has to be able to find the open shooter on the perimeter. 

    This is why general manager Otis Smith has surrounded Howard with premier three-point shooters, to hit them when teams double down on him in the post.

    The key for Howard and the Orlando Magic is for Dwight to find the open man more consistently out of the double-team so three-point shooters like J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson can cash in on their shooting ability.

1. Court a Fellow Superstar

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    It's no secret that NBA players talk—how do you think LeBron James and Chris Bosh found their way down to Miami with Dwyane Wade?

    Dwight Howard could also help court a fellow NBA superstar, maybe a Chris Paul, to join him in Orlando.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Paul and Howard talk about playing together—why wouldn't the best point guard in the NBA and the best center in the NBA not want to team up? 

    Obviously there are other excruciating circumstances that will have a say in whether a superstar like Paul could ever join the Orlando Magic, but Dwight Howard could help sway a guy like Paul towards Orlando regardless.

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