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News » Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2009-10-08

Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2009-10-08

Orlando Magic Getting Inside 2009-10-08The best center in the NBA expects to be considerably better in the near future. And that should be worrying opponents.

Dwight Howard, who made first-team All-NBA for the first time last season, has come to training camp this month excited about showing his increased strength, along with his improved free throw shooting touch.

Howard has gone from 265 pounds last season to 275 pounds at training camp. He also said his goal is to raise his free throw shooting percentage from 59 percent to over 70 percent this season.

"I've improved every year I've been in the league. And I don't think that will change now," said Howard, who will be starting his sixth season. "We fell short of our goal last season. I don't want that to happen again."

Howard, already the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, expects to show improvement on the offensive end, where he averaged 20.6 points last season. His points may not increase significantly, but his decision-making probably will.

"It's not always about post moves when you're double-teamed all the time," he said. "It's about making good passes, smart decisions to get shots for the other guys."

Although Howard hasn't shot over 60 percent from the free throw line since his rookie season, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy saw enough this summer to think there will be major improvement.

Howard shot 849 free throws -- more than anyone in the league last season -- because teams knew that fouling him was the best and only way to slow him around the basket.

"From the free throw line this year, I think 75 percent is realistic for him," Van Gundy said. "He can shoot free throws. I'd be really disappointed with anything below 70 percent. He's capable of doing that. And if he makes free throws, you just can't hammer him anymore. When he's hitting 70 percent, he'll be very difficult to guard. He's pretty difficult to guard now."

Howard became just the fifth player in league history to lead the league in both rebounding (13.8 rpg) and blocked shots (2.9 bpg) the same season. With a more potent offensive team around him that includes newly-acquired Vince Carter, Howard should find more room to work.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 8, 2009


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