3rd Year Stars
In year 1 Howard averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds. Last year he improved his scoring 32% to 15.8 and his rebounding 25% to 12.5.
Also in year 1, Nelson averaged 8.7ppg and 3apg. Year 2 improved to 14.6ppg (67%) and 4.9apg (63%). Both had outstanding improvement last year and now enter their first real "money year." Great performance can earn them huge extensions next summer.
Howard's improved rebounding may be unprecedented for a young player. The scoring improvement between year 1 and 2 for Howard and Nelson is somewhat comparable to Bosh (46%), Wade (49%), James (30.1%), Garnett (64%).
Lets look at scoring for the Big 4 from their 2nd to third years:
Player, PPG, Improvement from year 2
Bosh, 22.5 33.9%
Anthony 26.5 27.4%
Wade 27.2 12.9%
James 31.4 15.4%
Average improvement: 21.0%, median improvement 23.4%
There was not a whole lot of room for improvement statistically for Wade and James going into this year.
Howard and Nelson have plenty of room for improvement, just like Bosh and Anthony last year. If they work hard, stay healthy and the team stays focussed, it's conceivable we could be looking at something like:
Howard: 20 ppg, 14 rpg
Nelson: 18 ppg, 6 apg
I'll go out on a limb and say Nelson should do better. Steve Francis in his third year was good for 21.6 and 6.4 which Nelson is capable of matching. The last two months of the year Nelson averaged 15.8 and 5.6. Howard finished the last two months at 16.2 and 12.5.