After one season at Michigan, Jett Howard has decided to forgo the rest of his collegiate eligibility and enter the 2023 NBA Draft, the team announced last week.
Howard appeared in 29 games for the Wolverines, averaging 14.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 41.4% from the field, 36.8% on threes and 80.0% from the free-throw line. He scored 15 points or more 14 times, with his career-high 34-point night coming against Iowa in an overtime loss.
NBA analysts across the country project Howard to a first round pick, likely somewhere between 10-20.
Let’s take a look at Howard as a draft prospect and discuss what he’s good at, what he needs to work on and what teams could be a good fit for him.
The appeal of Howard is obvious: there will always be a place in the NBA for 6-foot-8 players who can shoot three-pointers. But he is much more than shooter; he flashed his potential as a three-level scorer and shot creator this past season, and he fits the archetype most teams are looking for in young wings.
Howard has a quick release and a beautiful jumper. He’s a confident shooter, letting it fly when he has an opening on the wing. He’s a good set shooter and did a great job moving to the open spot to make the pass for his teammate easier. He also could make shots coming off screens, and showed off a little step-back that gives him plenty of space.
Howard is not the fastest, but he’s great coming downhill off a screen, using his length to step through the defense and finish at the rim.
I thought Howard was an underrated passer this past season as well. He has excellent court vision and as the year went along, he got a lot better finding his teammates for easy baskets when he couldn’t finish at the rim. NBA teams obviously love the shooting, but his playmaking (8:20-12:40 in clip below) in the open court and off his own drives might be what they love the most.
At his absolute floor, Howard could be a guy who comes off the bench and let’s it fly from deep. He has the upside to develop into a lead shot creator. I could see him thriving as a team’s sixth man in the right situation.
What he needs to work on
For as big as he is, Howard never really rebounded well in college. He averaged less than three per game, and the most he ever got in one game was seven in the win over Penn State. Part of that is because he was far away from the basket, but he didn’t bring a lot effort rebounding-wise on either end of the floor.
Howard did get a block every now and then, but he struggled defensively at times. He didn’t have the foot speed to stay in front of quick wings and he wasn’t strong enough to defend well in the post. He has the tools to be a solid defender, but he still has quite a bit of work to do.
He dealt with injuries to both ankles this season and while Michigan was being precautious, you have to worry at least a little bit about Howard’s long-term durability.
It’s no secret Michigan couldn’t finish close games this past season and as much as he’s billed as a scorer, Howard didn’t do a whole lot late in games. Granted, he was usually the third option behind Hunter Dickinson and Kobe Bufkin, so he didn’t get the ball much late in games. He definitely didn’t shy away from the moment but late in games, he didn’t seem to be as aggressive with the ball as he normally is.
If he continues to improve as a defender and a rebounder, his floor as a prospect rises immensely, and he could be a high-level 3-and-D guy with a lot of offensive upside.
Good destinations for Howard
A lot of your success in the NBA is based on where you get picked, and there are some situations for Howard that would clearly be better than others. I think he would fit in well with a team that is already solid defensively, to cover up for his weaknesses and help him develop on that end of the floor.
I could see him thriving off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lead the NBA in defensive rating. They have tons of length already with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the front court, and with two crafty All Star guards in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Howard could be set up for a lot of open threes.
I’d also like to see him in a place where he could be a primary creator in the second unit. The Miami Heat are one of the premiere teams when it comes to player development, and Howard — who grew up in Miami with his dad playing and coaching there — could thrive in South Beach coming off the bench. I also would like to see him on teams full of fun, young role players he could play off, like the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Brooklyn Nets.
The draft isn’t for another three months, but Maize n Brew will be here to provide updates through the process, as well as any other Michigan players who head to the pros.