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Dwight Howard is seriously working on 3-pointers this summer

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Howard is 5-of-56 on threes all-time.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There are a lot of words you can use to describe Dwight Howard: Rebounder. Dunker. Jumper. Shot-blocker. Defensive anchor. Screener. Jester

And if the Atlanta Hawks center has his way, there’s one more you can add:

Three-point shooter.

Howard joined ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday, and when asked how the evolution of small ball has changed his game, the 31-year-old center said he’s working on his perimeter shooting so that he can remain a valuable player through the latter stretch of his playing career:

“I’ve been working on my threes,” Howard said, “really trying to add some range to my game, which is gonna be weird for people to see, I guess, because they’re used to seeing me in the paint battling. But in order for me to play longer, I have to expand my game.”

This isn’t the first time Howard’s hinted toward improving his three-point shooting. At the start of the season, the Hawks’ big man said it was only a matter of time before he extended his range to the perimeter.

"Actually it's something that we all work on every day in practice," Howard said in November, according to CBS Sports’ James Herbert. "You know what, it's going to happen. It's the beginning of the season. ... I do want to shoot some threes. I think that it would just expand everything for myself and for this team. But right now, this team needs me to dominate the paint."

Howard is far from a shooter. The Hawks’ big man has made five of his 56 career three-point attempts, though several were full-court heaves that had a low conversion rate. His last-made three came in the 2014-15 season as a member of the Houston Rockets (of course).

But his decision to shift focus to the three-point shot shows the direction the NBA is headed.

Gone are the days where primarily back-to-the-basket big men can dominate the game from the low block. Defenses are faster, smarter, and more versatile now than ever before, and a center — a position that is becoming more and more obsolete — has to be able to do more than just rebound and dunk.

Fortunately for Howard, there’s precedence for big men developing three-point shots overnight. Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol came out guns ablaze this season after relatively tepid perimeter shooting seasons last year — as did Brook Lopez, who notched a game with seven threes and five blocks this season. Both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins developed reliable three-point shots, and Al Horford showed his mid-range stroke could translate two steps back behind the line.

The challenge for Howard, though, is that he has never been a serviceable mid-range shooter. He shot only 41.7 percent on twos between 10 and 14 feet from the rim and a paltry 21.7 percent on those from 15 to 19 feet out. Those are the percentages for a guy who, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore, wanted to become a better mid-range shooter this season.

And making the jump from a primarily pick-and-roll and offensive rebound scorer in Atlanta to a potential stretch 5 could prove difficult for a player who hasn’t shown much touch outside of the foul line.