Can Dwight Powell Help Solve Front Court Problems?


Dwight Powell came to Dallas as an unknown. Drafted out of Stanford by the Charlotte Bobcats with the 45th pick in last year’s draft, Powell was traded twice before the season began and is already on his fourth NBA team.

The rookie journeyman was mostly viewed as a throw-in in the trade to acquire Rajon Rondo. There was no indication in the short time from when talks began and the trade was completed that the Mavericks had any real interest in Powell, and it’s unlikely they did. But it’s possible the Mavericks have stumbled across a legitimate contributor in the 23-year-old Canadian.

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You can call it a snap-judgement. It’s fair. Powell has played 53 NBA minutes, and 29 of them came last night in Denver.

But with Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki sidelined Powell finally got a chance to show what he can do, and he took advantage.

In his 29 minutes Powell scored 11 points on 5-8 shooting, snagged five rebounds, and had two assists and a block while showcasing a skill set that fits in well with the Mavericks.

He has floor-stretching capabilities, runs the floor very well, is a competent passer, and had success in the pick-and-roll against Denver. Check out his highlights.

He’s not the athletic freak that Brandan Wright was for the Mavericks, but he moves fluidly for a player his size and possesses something Wright doesn’t: a mid-range jump shot. He’s 3-3 from 10 feet out to the three-point line on the season. He missed his lone three-point attempt against Denver but is 2-3 from distance this year, too.

And he finishes well around the rim (other than this), as evidenced by the savvy move to avoid Kenneth Faried under the hoop in the third quarter. He’s 8-10 at the rim this season.

But the Mavericks don’t need scoring from Powell. His ability to rebound and provide interior defense is what will ultimately get him on the floor. He’s 6’11” with a 7’0″ wingspan, but at just 240 lbs can he be the inside force the Mavericks need?

53 minutes is an extremely small sample size but the early figures are encouraging.

Opponents have shot just 50% from less than six feet against Powell. Again, it’s a small sample size. But that 50% figure is better than everyone else in the Maverick front court.

Jan 14, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur (00) has his shot blocked by Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell (back) during the first half at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

He hasn’t shown himself to be a great rebounder, but he had five against Denver and his numbers translate out to over six rebounds per 36-minutes. He’s smart, seems to be a hard worker, and generally is in the correct position on the floor. All traits that should help him on the glass.

He’s not going to solve all of Dallas’ problems in the front court. The Mavericks still need to add a veteran big man. But in limited opportunity Powell has shown that he can help. He’s still learning, but is in the right place to do it. The opportunity to grow under the tutelage of Nowitzki, Chandler, and Rick Carlisle will be extremely beneficial for Powell if he wants it to be.

Don’t be surprised to see him earning more minutes as the season progresses.

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