After the 2017-18′ season, Dwight Powell has finally changed the opinion of some Mavericks fans about his four-year, $37 million dollar contract. Entering the 2018-19′ season, what else should we expect from Dwight Powell?
In the last season, Dwight Powell was able to put up the best statistics of his career, he saw 21 minutes of playing time in 79 games and averaged 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists per game. Some will say that he is finally living up to the contract he was given a couple off-seasons ago, while others still expect more production or even see Powell as a trading asset. However, Mavericks should be seeing him as a key contributor off the bench, and expect him to play a role in whatever success the Mavericks achieve this season. With the new additions of Luka Dončić, Jalen Brunson, and DeAndre Jordan, it is easy forget about or overlook the Mavericks that have been around since before the beginning of this tanking saga. Mavericks fans should expect Powell to put up the same or better statistics this year while seeing improvements in his craft.
Energy Spark Off The Bench
Before Dennis Smith Jr. came to Dallas, before the acquiring of free-agent DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Powell was the one punching his ticket to lob-city in Dallas. JJ Barea was tossing up lobs to Powell or sneaking him passes for the open dunk. Dwight Powell has always been athletic and capable of high jumps and reaches to go for the block or dunk. He has improved his finishes around the rim, with his field goal percentage rising from 49% to 59% in the past three season. He is a tenacious re-bounder and capable of pulling in offensive rebounds, bringing in almost 2 (1.8) per game last season. Let’s not forget that Powell was a part of the Maverick’s “death line-up” last year,(JJ, Yogi, Harris, Powell, Dirk), which for a short stretch had the best offensive and net rating of the league. He will see valuable minutes being both the back-up to Dirk Nowitzki and DeAndre. It would not come as a surprise to see him receive more than 21 minutes on the court this season due to Dirk having less playing time and the fact that his athleticism will be a good follow-up for when DeAndre sits on the bench. Powell also shot a career-high 33% from behind the arc this past season, and by no means is this going to be a game-changing statistic but in this new generation of basketball, having a big that is able to drop an open-three is extremely valuable.
In the past three seasons, Rick Carlisle has played Powell in both the Power Forward and Center positions coming off the bench, and at times, even started in either position. With Maxi Kleber and Salah Mejri returning to the roster this off-season, Dwight Powell could be paired up with either one of these in the front court. Dwight Powell gives Coach Carlisle the option between making his second unit’s back court an offensive or defensive duo. As previously mentioned Powell has an offensive spark and rebounding tenacity similar to DeAndre Jordan, this similarity would continue any offensive flow the Mavericks have during a game when Jordan sits to take a breather. Being able to catch alley-oops, dunking and grabbing offensive boards will give the Mavericks a continuous offensive presence at the Center position. With Powell at Center, this would put Kleber as the back-up Power Forward and there will be two big men seen as potential 3-point threats coming off the bench. If Carlisle wants to take a more defensive approach, he could bring Mejri and Powell off the bench, Mejri being a tenacious re-bounder, shot blocker and tough competitor, it would give Dwight Powell the Power Forward position, where he could use his speed and athleticism to disrupt the flow of an opposing Forward. Dwight Powell also serves as a reliable back-up starter in case of any injuries/rest that could affect Dirk’s or Jordan’s playing time. Mavericks fans shouldn’t take Powell’s flexibility to efficiently cover either position for granted since this helps not only his growth as a player but relieves pressure off the rest of the team and the coaching staff.
Over the years, Dwight Powell has become a personal favorite in this Mavericks fan’s heart and of others. Some would say this faith in Powell is foolish, and this foolish faith is what led to his contract, but it cannot be denied that Powell’s determination, hustle and influence in the locker room culture has made these tanking years slightly more bearable. It is easy to forget that Powell was just an add-on to the “block-buster” Rondo trade in the 2014-15′ season, but look at him now, every year he proves his worth more and more and continues to contribute to the Mavericks playing style and culture. Dwight Powell is finally proving the worth of his contract and will not disappoint this upcoming season.