The Dallas Mavericks were without presumed starting center, Dwight Powell, for the entire preseason. The Mavs looked good but were missing something that will push them even further. I believe that something is Powell.
There are a few new key players for the Dallas Mavericks that will play important roles on the team this year. Some of them will be stepping into the starting lineup, like Kristaps Porzingis and Delon Wright. Others will play important bench roles, such as Seth Curry and Boban Marjanovic.
When new players join a team (which happens for every team pretty much every year), there is usually a period of time where these guys need to learn how to play together. This takes place in practice and in training camp, but preseason basketball is one of the best times because it gives them the opportunity to simulate a real game together and read situations.
The Mavs were missing a starter in the preseason this year while Dwight Powell was on the mend from a hamstring injury. Powell has been with the Mavericks for several years and most of us know the kind of offensive weapon he can be. With the addition of a playmaker like Wright and an offensive force like Porzingis, Powell’s role looks very different than last year.
I think people tend to forget just how good Powell can be. He doesn’t always make the best decisions and his shot needs some work, but he is among the best finishers at the rim in the league. When Dwight first came to Dallas, he was not very strong and forced himself into tough situations where he was not finishing at the rim with any force.
Now, defenders have to actively push Powell away from the rim because he will do anything to dunk it in their faces. The growth we have seen from Dwight Powell is unlike anyone I have ever watched in a Mavs uniform.
When he comes back to the starting lineup, he is going to put defenders in a serious bind. The pick-and-roll offense that Powell and Luka Doncic ran last year was very effective, but the options of what to do were limited and it took some creativity from Doncic almost every play. This year, with the addition of Porzingis as a pick-and-pop option, the passing ability of Wright and the hopeful shooting from the wing position, Powell is going to have more room to roll to the rim.
If Rick Carlisle can balance his offense perfectly, this set of players could be one of the best offensive teams in the league. Powell will need a little bit of time to get used to his new teammates, but there is no reason to believe that they couldn’t find the balance of KP opening up for a shot and Powell rolling to the basket when Luka has the ball.
These guys can also offer some versatility. If Powell can get his three-point shot to a respectable percentage, Dallas will have the opportunity to allow he and Porzingis to switch who pops and who roles on occasion, confusing the defense even more in the process. There are so many things the Mavs can do when Powell is in the lineup.
Obviously it comes with its downsides, too, but I think they will be outweighed by the versatility the Mavericks will have on the offensive end. Powell is a key part of this team and should be recognized as such as we get the regular season started in just a few more days.