Howard received 53 of 56 votes from a media panel and is the first top pick to win the award since Las Vegas' A'ja Wilson did so in 2018.
The Dream traded with the Washington Mystics to get the No. 1 pick, and it paid off as Howard, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Kentucky, excelled immediately at the pro level.
Howard averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.3 minutes while starting 34 games, leading all rookies in points, assists, steals and minutes per game. She was third in the league in 3-pointers made with 85, a single-season record for a WNBA rookie.
Howard was selected as an All-Star and set Dream franchise rookie records for total points (552) and rebounds (154). She is the second Atlanta player to win the top rookie honor, following Angel McCoughtry, also a No. 1 pick, in 2009.
The other vote-getters for the Rookie of the Year award were No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith of Indiana (one vote) and No. 3 selection Shakira Austin of Washington (two votes). Howard, Smith and Washington were joined on the all-rookie team by Chicago's Rebekah Gardner and Indiana's Queen Egbo.