After a relatively promising NBA Summer League, Dwight Powell entered the season as the de facto primary backup for both Dirk Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia. Minutes were available and in 2015, Powell seized the opportunity, playing under 20 minutes a game but frequently recording games around eight points and five rebounds. Once the season rolled over into 2016, his minutes became sporadic and after the David Lee signing, Powell was relegated to the bench for much of the stretch run which pushed the Mavericks into the playoffs.
His promising start derailed primarily due to his shot abandoning him. Though he shot north of 50 percent during November and December, his percentage plummeted below 40 percent for much of 2016. Powell has solid form yet was unable to connect very often outside of three feet. Basketball Reference had him shooting a dreadful 29 percent on jump shots last season and hitting the exact same percentage beyond three feet away from the rim. For a player who appeared to be a stretch four or five, these numbers were so Godawful that Rick Carlisle had to stop playing him at the power forward position entirely.
Powell is a superb athlete at 6'11 and a listed 240 pounds, but his build presents a slight player who doesn't seem to have an actual position in the NBA despite the trend towards small ball. Powell does have great leaping ability but virtually no strength and the Maverick attempts to steal minutes for him at center worked infrequently.
At least Powell ended the season on a strong note, scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds during the closeout loss to the Thunder in Game 5.
Dwight Powell is an unrestricted free agent. The Mavericks are able to offer him a qualifying offer of $1.2 million.
With a dearth of youth, there's a good chance that Dwight Powell is back in a Dallas Mavericks uniform next season. There's a lot to be said for system familiarity paired with his potential.
But at some point, potential has to be realized. Powell will be a 25 year old third year player next season, so it's questionable how much upside he actually has. The general consensus is that he had a fine sophomore season but if that's the case, why did he post 10 DNP's (Did not play) after the All Star Break? Losing minutes to David Lee, a player who could not get minutes on either of his past two teams, isn't very re-assuring.
Powell needs to prove that he can hit a shot from anywhere other than right next to the basket. The form is there and by all accounts the worth ethic is there too. I don't believe Powell's capable of growing into a Brandan Wright or even Al-Farouq Aminu type role, mainly due to his size and strength (and, in comparison to Wright, a lack of elite-level athleticism), but he can at minimum be a plus on the offensive end.
It must depend on what one thinks his role is. If it's a back up big who plays 10-12 minutes a game, that makes sense, particularly with the salary cap expanding. But if Powell wants more money or a different role, it's time to let him walk. The Mavericks need a functional backup, capable of playing at least 20-24 minutes a night in either the power forward or center position. That's not Dwight Powell. If he comes back to Dallas, it should be in the role of 10th-11th man.