That’s according to a 91-person panel of analysts, bloggers, editors, reporters and radio personalities assembled by ESPN.com. Those voters were asked to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale based on “the current quality of each player.” The website has unveiled its rankings of the NBA’s top 500 players over the last few weeks.
LeBron James finished first, which could frustrate Howard.
Howard arguably is at the height of his powers. Now 25 years old, he finished second in the league’s MVP balloting in 2010-11 after he averaged a career-high 22.9 points per game and 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Howard also won his third consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The scary thing for the rest of the NBA is that Howard has room to improve. He is working with shooting coach Ed Palubinskas, and Howard hopes to raise his notoriously poor free-throw percentage to 80 percent or better. For Howard, shooting above 80 percent from the line would be a huge deal.
And if all other factors remain equal, such dramatic improvement at the line almost certainly would vault him into the top spot on next year’s rankings.