It was an up-and-down rookie season for Dwight Powell, quite literally: The first-year player was assigned to the D-League 12 different times combined by the Mavs and Boston Celtics, his former team. But Powell handled the hectic nature of his season with grace and maturity, mixing in a bit of dominance, too.

As a four-year player at Stanford, it’s no surprise Powell understood what his path would be this season, and as a second-round pick in this league, sometimes you have to travel roads a bit less glamorous. That said, the future appears bright for this young player, and the Mavs front office is optimistic about how much better he can — and likely will — become.


3.4 2.0 43.5 27.3 77.4

D-League Stats

28.3 9.4 3.3 1.3 60.0 44.0 71.4



Powell showed why he has the type of upside that teams crave. At 6′ 11″ with a 7′ wingspan and 35-inch max vertical, there’s no question he has the physical tools and athleticism to be a dangerous stretch-four in this league. What he needed to prove was his ability to consistently knock down jump shots and move the floor well, and he did just that.

Most of Powell’s season was spent in the D-League, so it’s almost disingenuous to judge his performance off of his NBA shot chart. That said, he showed his diverse skillset in the Mavs’ first game in Denver on Jan. 14, demonstrating the ability to spot up for jump shots, run the floor, and drive and finish at the rim. He’s the type of player who’s good at everything offensively, but he just needs to fine-tune some small things to take his game to the next level.


Powell finished many of his D-League games with absurd stat lines, but maybe his gaudiest came on March 25, when he put together 34 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists on 15-of-24 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from deep.

The video above shows why the Mavs are excited about Powell. He was just too athletic for most of his opponents and could get to his spot whenever he wanted to. His jump shot is pure and it looks easy. He ran the floor well. Powell even made some very sharp passes, particularly impressive because of his limited practice time with the Legends. Typically he would be assigned to the team only to play games and then he’d be immediately recalled. To show that level of comfort with such little time to prepare speaks volumes about his mental handle on the game.

“We’re just really lucky that 20 minutes up the road, at the drop of a hat, we can have a guy practice here in the morning and play games with the Legends,” said Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations, at his exit interview. “It’s a real luxury. He has embraced that situation. Some guys look at it as a demotion, which I think is laughable. (It’s) an opportunity to play. He’s embraced it and really got the most out of it.”


Powell is under the Mavs’ control for one more season and then he hits restricted free agency so long as the Mavericks give him a qualifying offer next summer. This means that, after next season, Dallas will have the option to match any team’s offer to Powell, should he receive one.

For this summer, though, Powell’s contract appears to be a bargain. Second-round picks who perform well are the best bargains in basketball, as Chandler Parsons proved with the Rockets the last few seasons. Powell obviously isn’t at Parsons’ level, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute on a regular basis at the NBA level.


OK, so Powell will crack the rotation next season, right?

“That’s a coach’s question, but it wouldn’t surprise me,” Nelson said.

The decision will be up to Rick Carlisle, who always plays personnel decisions awfully close to the chest. The goal for Powell, at this point, would be for him to show the Mavericks that they can’t possibly keep him out of the rotation. After all, Dallas will likely need to allocate more minutes to other power forwards next season as Dirk Nowitzki’s maintenance plan sees his play fewer and fewer minutes in the regular season, particularly on back-to-backs. That’s where Powell can fit in.

Will he be a star next season? Probably not. But can he be a 10 minute per game guy in this league right now? I think so. With a full summer to work out, watch tape, and get stronger, Powell can add to his game both in terms of skill and physicality, and that will only help him moving forward. As one of the few Mavericks guaranteed to return next season, the opportunity to play regular NBA minutes is right in front of him. He must now seize it.

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