Matt Howard of the Butler Bulldogs is to committing a good hard foul what Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is to being unfunny and possessing no wit.
Howard benefited greatly from sophomore Center Andrew Smith breaking the starting lineup. This allowed Howard to move from the five to the four, giving him more experience playing the only position he has a legitimate chance of playing at the next level. Howard, lost weight in the offseason and improved his jump shot. He’s a great college basketball player, but his skills do not necessarily translate to the next level.
Still, he could get serious looks due to his intangibles and actually make a roster due to his winning ways and the energy he brings. And he’s smart too, Matt Howard was the Academic All-American of the year.
By Paul M. Banks and David Kay
Go here for our NBA draft stock analysis of Shelvin Mack
More than likely, he goes undrafted but a team could take a second round flyer. He has numerous strengths, including: hustle, non-stop work ethic, aggressive rebounding, basketball IQ, making winning plays, solid fundamentals on offense including his three-point range, free throw shooting and a good touch around the basket.
He’s goofy and awkward but it works for him. He’s like a rich man’s version of Northwestern’s John Shurna.
“Matt Howard will be an NBA player and his team would be winning wherever he went to school. That’s who he is,” his Coach Brad Stevens said.
“He makes teams better. He is a winner. Whenever I have to answer questions about what’s his real height, how long is he, he wins. He just wins. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s — he just understands the game…I could go on and on.”
Player Comparison: Eduardo Najera. How does Najera still have a role in the NBA? Because he brings the same intangibles to the floor that Howard does at the college level. If Howard gets his chance in the league, he will have to follow the same path of the Najeras, Brian Cardinal’s, Brian Scalabrine’s, and Mark Madsen’s of the world by working his tail off.
So we can obviously infer from Stevens’ quote above that Howard is not 6-8, and maybe not even 6-7. But then again almost everyone’s height is “complementary,” you might say. I’ve stood next to Nate Robinson multiple times. If he’s 5’9″ then I’m 6’1″.
Howard has other weaknesses, other than being undersized for a NBA four, including: Athleticism, putting the ball on the deck, not a great back to the basket scorer, too often gets in foul trouble, and a penchant for flopping that would make an Argentinian soccer player blush.
However, Howard never takes a possession off, and he’s great when the game is on the line.
“A lot of games are going to come down to one or two possessions, and while we normally end up talking about the last few, there’s quite a few throughout the game that you can’t relax because that could also be the difference in the game,” Howard said.
“I think it’s important to understand that and to play the game with that mindset, that this possession is also important because we could end up with a one-possession game or something real close.”
He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks