5. Dwight Powell’s defense
Barring a few rough stretches, through seven games Dwight Powell’s defense has been much improved comparable to his previous seasons in Dallas.
Powell is doing a great job as a switch defender when tasked with guarding wings.
He’s also becoming much more adapt to absorbing contact and still being able to contest the shot when he has to rotate over as a rim protector.
Powell is also doing a great job of using his hands and has picked passing lanes multiple times from beating his man to the spot on defense this season. At the end of the day, Powell is never going to become the tried and true rim protector the Mavericks covet, but his defense has ascended to a level that makes him a lot more playable down the stretch of games.
It’s unknown if Powell will be able to maintain this level of defensive productivity on a long-term basis as he’s been a slightly above-average defender at the absolute best throughout most of his career. He also had a pretty rough go defensively against Orlando on the second night of a back-to-back on Monday night, but otherwise, the veteran big man is proving to be an invaluable rotation piece for Dallas this year so far with his rim-rolling ability and defense.
Dwight Powell has once again defied the odds and has become a staple in the Mavericks' rotation this year through his defense, but another Mavericks veteran big man has had quite the opposite effect compared to Powell.