Howard’s trainers have added ball-handling, shooting to workouts

Dwight Howard signed a two-year deal with Washington this summer.

Dwight Howard‘s trainers, Ed Downs and Justin Zormelo, have added ball-handling and shooting drills to Howard’s workouts so that Howard can adapt to the current NBA and play until he’s 40-years-old — an age Howard has said he wants to get to while still being in the league.

Howard signed a two-year, $11 million free-agent deal with the Washington Wizards this summer. As he was negotiating his buyout from the Brooklyn Nets, Howard was not considering signing with the Wizards, as the team didn’t really cross his mind.

But when Wizards star point guard John Wall messaged Howard on Instagram telling the former All-NBA center to come to Washington, Howard was all in.

With the Charlotte Hornets in 2017-18, Howard was very productive, as he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 55.5 percent from the field in 81 games.

But with the league trending to more small-ball lineups and teams drifting away from the conventional post up center position, Howard’s trainers have made it a point to help Howard grow his game and become more versatile.

“I had to figure out how to change his game into what today’s style of play was,” Zormelo told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “We added ball-handling, we added shooting. Just a completely different mindset than he’s used to playing. I was able to figure out how to add different skills to Dwight and he adapts pretty quickly.

“He wants to evolve into Anthony Davis, into Kevin Durant, but his own version of that.”

At the end of the 2017-18 season, Wizards coach Scott Brooks and Wall highlighted specific types of players they wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, the two men pointed to an athletic big.

Wall is excited to play with Howard and says he will benefit the team in a variety of ways.

“Even though he’s older, he’s still an athletic big and still has respect in this league,” Wall told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington. “I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he’s a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we’re attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we’re throwing lobs. I think that benefits us a lot.

“I think it’s an opportunity to see how it pans out, to have an athletic big and somebody who’s going to re-correct their career. I think it should be fun and exciting for us. Hopefully he comes in with a serious focus and mind-set (that) he wants to get better and help our team. We’re about to sit back and see what happens.”