DALLAS — Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks has gone from a throw-in player in the disastrous Rajon Rondo trade to a key player in the Mavs’ rotation in only a year.
After struggling to find his niche in his first NBA season, the former Stanford Cardinal standout has merged into a consistent, productive talented player on one of the NBA’s oldest rosters by doing the dirty work in the paint and successfully guarding some of the best post players in the Association.
Powell ranks fifth on the Mavs in scoring (9.3), third in rebounding (6.8) and third in blocks (0.8). The young forward’s numbers look even more impressive considering the fact that he’s only averaging 20 minutes a game while backing up Dirk Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia.
“It feels good, especially when we win games like tonight; to be able to come in there and contribute something, so I’m just going to continue working and try to help even more,” Powell said after Saturday’s victory over the Nuggets. “I got to play hard regardless of how many minutes I get or don’t get. I’m still trying to keep that same mindset I had that got me here; to continue to work hard and help the team win.”
So far this season, Powell has scored six or more points in 15 of the Mavs’ 17 games while racking up two double-doubles. His blue-collar work ethic has been noticed and appreciated all the way up to the top of the Mavs’ organization.
“He’s a hard-playing guy who’s getting experience and getting better,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after a recent shootaround.
Powell continues to consistently do the little things to make a big impact each game he touches the floor. The young frontcourt player is always fighting for rebounds and making hard cuts to the rim while learning how to become a successful player for a long time in the league from guys like Nowitzki and Pachulia.
Following the lead of a future Hall of Famer and one of the toughest post players in the league is a huge positive which has allowed Powell to consistently be a part of the Mavs’ closing lineup in the early part of the season. If Powell continues developing at this rapid rate, he might be one of the key players the surprising Mavs depend on in their quest for a playoff berth in the tough Western Conference.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Powell said. “There’s a long list of things I’ve learned from playing, from the coaches and especially from the vets here.”
For his tough-minded mentor Pachulia, Powell’s early-season success can be attributed to the mental makeup and mindset he brings to the court every day.
“He listen’s first off and he wants to get better,” Pachulia, who’s recorded 10 double-doubles this season, said. “He has a bright future, he just needs to keep learning this game to make it easier for himself, and once he gets the experience and obviously with the progress and getting better, he’s going to be a hell of a player in this league.”