Dwight Powell was the lone bright spot of the Rondo trade. Unless you count the extra playing time that was opened up for Al-Farouq Aminu; that was nice too. But seriously, at the time, Powell was a throw-in to the trade. Who knew he would be the more exciting of the two basketball players that Dallas received from Boston?
Powell didn't play much this season, averaging just under 10 minutes a game in 24 games. His stats were modest: 3.4 points and 2 rebounds a game, on 44 percent shooting. His numbers look quite a bit more promising if you look at the per-36 or per-100 numbers, but ultimately, if you're a fan of Powell's potential in Dallas, it's more a result of having watched him than from studying his stats.
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While there were plenty of rookie mistakes, Powell never looked lost to me. He was a four-year starter at Stanford, and came out of college a well-rounded and confident player. He may already be a better defender than the big men who got playing time ahead of him this season, most notably Amar'e Stoudamire and Charlie Villanueva. Additionally, while inconsistent, he showed that he has the range to be something of a stretch four, with a fairly reliable ability to hit open jumpers, especially for a guy his size.
Ultimately, Powell's time in the NBA this season was extremely up and down, and it would be unfair to judge him based on that. Against the lesser competition of the D-League, Powell proved that he was a big fish in a small pond, averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly 3 assists a game, on just under 60% shooting (and 39% from three).
2014-2015 Grade: Incomplete. (Unless you count his time in Frisco, in which case B+)
2015-2016 salary - $845,059
In the site's review of Dirk's season, one question Kirk asked was whether Dallas will finally get Dirk a backup this offseason. Assuming that Dirk continues to be the starter next season (probable, but not a complete given), I honestly believe--or at least hope--that Dwight Powell may be that backup. He has a lot to learn, but the guy definitely looks the part. Listed at 6-11 and 240 lbs, Powell is plenty big enough to play the hybrid PF-C bench big role that Rick Carlisle likes to utilize.
His play with the Texas Legends is actually much more indicative of what he might be able to develop into for Dallas in the next year or two. A good sign of whether a guy has the potential to contribute in the NBA is whether he dominates D-League competition. Powell did that on a nearly nightly basis. What's more is that he demonstrated good instincts, and surprising passing ability and range for a big man.
Whether that translates to an NBA career is anyone's guess. Not every second round big man who shows some flashes early on in his career turns into Draymond Green. But it wouldn't shock me if Powell developed into something of a poor man's Green. Like Draymond, Dwight does a lot of little things well, though he doesn't really do anything great. I'm probably overselling it a bit here, but I definitely see Powell as a reliable glue guy like Green or, for a more local example, Shawn Marion.
The only real question is whether Carlisle will give him the opportunity to grow into the quality role player a lot of us believe he can be. It would behoove Dallas to ensure that he gets at least 10 minutes a game, night in and night out. And it is equally important that he isn't buried on the bench for weeks on end just to give minutes to washed up veterans who can't ( or won't) play defense and shouldn't factor into the organization's long term plans.
Powell strikes me as a guy who isn't lacking in effort or dedication, so if he gets chained to the bench again, it's either because he isn't an NBA player or it's one more example for us to point at when we complain about Carlisle's perceived bias against young players. But it really feels to me like Powell has the tools and the mentality to contribute to this team. Now all he needs is the opportunity.