The Mavericks have a really odd way of showing their commitment to Dwight Powell. Last season before the trade deadline, Donnie Nelson said they had first round draft pick offers for Powell but they declined because they liked him.
Within a month, Powell was basically out of the rotation in favor of off-the-street pickup David Lee.
This summer, the Mavs handed him a four year deal at $37 million, with Rick Carlisle saying he's going to be a big rotation player.
A week later the Mavs signed forward Quincy Acy to a two year deal worth the league minimum. If a Mavs front office staffer or coach every publicly says they love how healthy Powell is, Powell should just lock himself in a panic room for the rest of the season.
For what it's worth, Acy's real shot at stealing Powell's minutes comes from whether the Mavs still believe Powell can be a stretch four off the bench. They tried it last year and it failed spectacularly, with Powell hitting just 33.7 percent of shots from 16-24 feet according to NBA.com's stats page. Meanwhile, Acy seems to be getting better every year at his jumper. Here's Powell and Acy's per-36 numbers from last season.
He hit 42 percent from that same range last season, although on less than half of the attempts Powell had. Acy also hit more three-pointers than Powell (and hit them at about 39 percent, on 48 attempts). Even though Acy's sample size is smaller, he still produced way more than Powell from the outside on fewer chances. With Acy's size (6'7) he projects easier as the stretch four the Mavs have been dying for Powell to be and he's going to do it at a fraction of the cost. He's also just as much of an explosive dunker as Powell and is great in transition. Despite being around for two more years in the NBA, Acy is only one year older than Powell (25 to 24).
I'm not sure that means the Powell contract is even worse because Powell can be a decent backup five. With Andrew Bogut's injury history and the still rawness of Salah Mejri, Powell should have plenty of chances to get some backup five minutes next to Dirk Nowitzki, where he's always played his best ball in Dallas. Powell needs to work on his finishing outside of dunks, but he's a tremendous leaper, good screen setter and a viable threat rolling down the lane. He's a better rebounder than Acy, which again, should be the reason he sticks to center and not the four.
For what it's worth, the Kings were significantly better with Acy off the floor than on it, with a net-rating difference of almost six points per 100 possessions. That leads me to believe Acy's defense isn't all that great and while his jumper has improved, it's not enough to stop imposing defenses from clogging the lane and ignore him from the outside.
Those numbers can be skewed a bit, because Acy was a bit-player on a bad Kings team. With the Mavericks, Acy should be slotting much closer to his most efficient role and surrounded with better players and a better coach. Acy still has work to do to be a rotation guy for Carlisle. I think he can be a better Dirk backup than Powell, even as Powell can still get good minutes at center.
Acy also seems to be an angry dude and the Mavericks can't get enough of those. Every title team since the beginning of dawn has had a player that the opposing team wants to punch in the face and also a player that they fear will make them leave the arena later that night in a full-body cast. That's Acy. I'll take him, even if that means Powell gets pushed down the rung yet again.