Josh Howard is a name many Dallas Mavericks fans are familiar with. The young star was one of Dallas’ cornerstones throughout the 2000s and he played a key role in the Mavs success throughout the decade.
High School Years
Howard attended Glenn High School in Kernersville, North Carolina. In both his junior and senior years he averaged a double-double and won the Frank Spencer Award, an award given to the best player in Northwest North Carolina. Also, in his senior year, he was named to the All-State first-team.
After finishing up at Glenn High School, he spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy. At Hargrave he averaged a double-double, putting up 19.9 points per game (PPG) and 10.1 rebounds per game (RPG). That same season he shot 56% from the field, 44% from three, and 85% from the free-throw line. He led the team to a 27-3 record.
Howard chose to attend Wake Forest University for college. He played in all 36 games in his first year on the school’s basketball team, starting in all but two games. Howard started producing right away on the team, averaging 9.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 assists per game (APG), 1.2 steals per game (SPG), and 0.9 blocks per game (BPG) for the season. The team went 7-9 in conference games, finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and missed out on the NCAA tournament. Wake Forest finished their season on a positive note with a winning record of 22-14. Howard led the team in steals for the season with 44.
He improved in all aspects in his second season on the team, averaging 13.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.0 SPG, and 1.1 BPG for the season. He played in 29 games and started in all but one. The team went 8-8 in conference play, finished sixth in the ACC, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. They entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region. In the first round of March Madness, they were quickly eliminated by the No. 10 seed, Butler University. They had another winning season, going 19-11 for the year. Howard led the team in scoring for the year and was named to the All-ACC second-team.
He stayed consistent in his junior year, putting up 13.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.0 BPG while starting in 26 out of his 31 games played for the season. The team did well in conference play, going 9-7, finishing third in their conference, and qualifying for the NCAA tournament for their second straight year. They entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region. In the first round, they took down the No. 10 seed, Pepperdine University. In the following round, Wake Forest fell to the No. 2 seed, the University of Oregon. Wake Forest finished the season with a winning record for a third straight year with Howard on the team, they went 21-13 for the season. Howard’s great year earned him a spot on the All-ACC third-team and a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District second-team.
Howard’s senior year was one of the best seasons in his basketball career. Howard amassed 19.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, and 1.5 BPG while starting all 31 games for Wake Forest. The team went 13-3 in conference play, finished first in the conference, were declared regular season champions, their first in 41 years, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. As the No. 2 seed in the East Region, Wake Forest defeated the No. 15 seed, East Tennesse State University, in the first round of March Madness. No. 10 seed, Auburn University, had Wake Forest’s number in the second round and eliminated them. Wake Forest still finished the season off with a strong winning record of 25-6. Howard’s senior season brought him a tremendous amount of awards. He was named the National Player of the Year by FOX, College Insider, and Basketball Digest. Howard was named a consensus first-team All-American, along with being named to the All-ACC first-team, and the ACC All-Defensive Team. To cap off his extraordinary senior season, Howard was unanimously named the ACC Player of the Year.
Howard became the second ACC player, after Shane Battier, to record 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 steals, 100 blocks, and 100 three-pointers in his college career.
Welcome to the NBA
Howard was drafted 29th overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2003 NBA Draft. Howard immediately got playing time with the Mavericks in his rookie season, even though he was drafted late in the first round. In his first year with the Mavs he started in 29 out of the 67 games he played in. He averaged 8.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.8 BPG for the season. The Mavericks went 52-30 and finished fifth in the Western Conference. The team was quickly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, after losing in five games to the Sacramento Kings. Howard came off the bench in all five games of the series and averaged 5.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.2 BPG. He was rewarded for his first-year performance by being named to the NBA All-Rookie second team.
In Howard’s second year on the team, he became the Mavericks’ go-to small forward. He started in all 67 games played and improved his numbers, putting up 12.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 0.6 BPG for the season. The team also improved, going 58-24 for the season and clinching the fourth spot in the West. Dallas defeated the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs after a hard-fought seven-game series by both teams. The Mavs were then taken out of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns in six games. Howard started in all 13 games and helped his team by putting up 15.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.5 BPG in the playoffs.
NBA Finals & All-Star Appearance
He continued to improve in his third year with the team and had a big impact on the team’s success leading up to the 2006 NBA Finals. He started in 58 out of the 59 games he took part in during the regular season. He racked up 15.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 0.4 BPG for the season. The Mavericks finished with a 60-22 record, enough to clinch the fourth seed in the West. They quickly handled the Memphis Grizzlies and swept them in four games. In the following round, they defeated their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, in seven games. In the Western Conference Finals, they got their revenge on the Suns and defeated them in six games. The Mavericks then made their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history but were defeated by the Miami Heat in six games. Howard started in all 23 playoff games and put up 16.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.6 BPG for the Mavs during the playoffs.
Howard’s dominating style of play continued during the 2006-07 season and he would finally be rewarded for his hard work in the NBA. He averaged 18.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 0.8 BPG while starting in 69 out of his 70 games played throughout the season. Howard was named a 2007 All-Star and participated in the game. The Mavericks finished the season with the best record in franchise history, 67-15. They entered the playoffs as the best team in the West but they lost in six games to the eighth seed, the Golden State Warriors. The Mavs became the first No. 1 seeded team in NBA history to lose to a No. 8 seeded team in a seven-game series. Howard started all six games and tried his hardest to help lead the team to win the series but his 21.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 2.2 SPG, and 0.8 BPG just weren’t enough.
Final Years in Dallas
The 2007-08 season was the best season in Howard’s career. He averaged a career-high in scoring as he amassed 19.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.4 BPG for the season. On December 8, 2007, in a game against the Utah Jazz, Howard scored a career-high 47 points to lead the Mavs to a victory. Dallas finished the season 51-31 and clinched the seventh seed in their conference. The Mavericks again failed to make it out of the first round after being eliminated in five games by the New Orleans Hornets. Howard started in all five games but his numbers in the playoffs went down, as he averaged 12.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 0.4 BPG in the series.
During the 2008-09 season, Howard played in the least amount of games up to that point in his NBA career, playing in 52 games for the season and starting in all but one. His numbers dropped a little but he still amassed 18.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.6 BPG for the season. The team did well in the season going 50-32 and clinching the sixth spot in the West. In the first round of the playoffs, the Mavs defeated the Spurs in five games. In the next round of the playoffs, The Nuggets ended the Mavericks’ championship hopes after eliminating them in five games. Howard continued his trend of starting in all of the Mavs playoff games and averaged 15.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 0.4 BPG during those 10 games.
The 2009-10 season would be Howard’s final year in Dallas. He started in 9 out of the 31 games he played with the Mavs that year, effectively ending his time as their starting small forward. In those 31 games with the team, his numbers dipped as he was putting up 12.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.3 BPG, still respectable stats, but when it came to Howard those numbers were lower than what fans were used to seeing from him.
Journey Around the NBA
Halfway through the 2010 season, Howard’s time in Dallas came to an end when he was traded to the Washington Wizards. He spent a season and a half with the team but only played in 22 games with them while starting in 13, due to him tearing his ACL in March 2010 and needing months to recover. In the few games he did play with the Wizards he still managed to put up 9.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.3 BPG.
During the 2011 offseason, Howard signed with the Jazz prior to the lockout-shortened season. In Utah, he started 18 games while playing in 43 of them. His numbers continued to decline, managing to put up 8.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.2 BPG for the season. Utah made the playoffs but they were quickly swept in the first round by the Spurs. Howard started in three of the four games and tried to assist the Jazz by amassing 3.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.3 BPG in the series.
He signed with the Timberwolves at the beginning of the following season but was waived a month later in December after suffering another ACL tear. In his 11 games played with the Wolves, he managed to start in four of them, while accumulating 6.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 0.3 BPG.
A few days before the 2013-14 NBA season tipped off, Howard signed with the Spurs but was waived after one day. Less than a week later the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ D-League team, now known as the G-League, picked him up. The Toros waived Howard in late February after another season-ending injury.
Howard joined the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2014 summer league but he never played another NBA game again and ultimately retired.
Howard’s time in the NBA is synonymous with his Mavericks tenure. His best years came during his time in Dallas, putting up 15.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.6 BPG during his six-and-a-half years there. He made himself known during his time with the Mavs and helped lead the team to the NBA Finals in 2006.
In 2016, Howard was hired as the head coach of Piedmont International University, a private Chrisitan University in his hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In his four seasons at Piedmont, the team accumulated a record of 49-49 with him leading the helm as head coach.
In April 2020, Howard took a job as the head coach of the University of North Texas at Dallas. During the 2021-22 season, the team went 8-13 in conference play and finished off the season with a record of 12-18.
Howard has three children.
He majored in sociology and minored in international studies.
Howard started his own foundation, named after himself, which helps to improve the quality of life in economically challenged communities by doing after-school programs, food programs, programs to motivate the youth, health and fitness programs, and trash pick-ups. The foundation aids citizens in Salem-Winston, North Carolina, and Dallas, Texas, along with hosting events in other cities and providing them with any assistance needed.
In 2004, Wake Forest retired Howard’s No. 5 jersey.
He was entered into the Hargrave Hall of Fame in 2011.
Howard had quite a basketball career. His basketball success started in high school and continued all the way until his later years in the NBA. Whenever Howard’s name is mentioned, the majority of people picture him in a Mavs jersey. His time on the Mavericks and the success he helped bring to the team is something that will never be forgotten by Mavs fans.