An Early Win in Mavs Free Agency

Why Dwight Powell Opting-In to his $10.3 million Player Option for 2019 is great news for the Dallas Mavericks.

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Dwight Powell signing on for next season at $10.3 million is an early win for the Mavericks in free agency. He plays an efficient, winning style of basketball and fits perfectly into the Mavericks offensive system. Having a roster of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Jalen Brunson allows the Mavericks great flexibility to spend their $30M + in cap space this summer. All of these players are capable NBA starters and do not leave any major holes that absolutely need to be filled. Having the two stars and a strong base of roll players gives the Mavs front office the green light to go out and shop for the best players and best value contracts regardless of position.

According to recent reports from ESPN NBA writer Tim MacMahon and Brad Townsend from the Dallas Morning News Dwight Powell will OPT-IN to his 2019-2020 Player Option for the Dallas Mavericks worth just under $10.3 million. This may get mixed reviews among Mavericks fans, I myself have been very critical of Dwight in the past, but there are a ton of reasons why Mavericks fans should be pumped about this recent news.  He may have his shortcomings but Dwight Powell plays efficient winning basketball and can play a big role in the Mavericks return to the Playoffs.

Powell’s Journey

In Dwight Powell’s first few months in the NBA he was moved around the NBA in several trades.  He was a 2nd round (45th overall) pick in 2014 by the Charlotte Hornets after spending 4 years at Stanford, traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then traded to the Boston Celtics all before he even stepped on an NBA court. After 5 games with the Celtics Dwight was involved in his third trade in less than 6th months when he landed in Dallas as part of the Rondo deal.

The Boston Celtics traded Powell and Rajon Rondo for Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, a 2016 1st round draft pick (Guerschon Yabusele was later selected) and a 2016 2nd round draft pick (Demetrius Jackson was later selected).

July 2016, after 2 seasons with the Mavericks, Powell signed a 4-yr/$37M deal with the 4th year being the $10.3M Player Option that we now know he will exercise.

Alley-Oop Master

Dwight Powell may not ever put the ball on the floor or create his own shot but he is still a great offensive weapon.  Much of it starts with him being a product of Rick Carlisle’s Maverick system with 326 Mavericks games and 5,886 minutes under his belt in 5 years. He may only play around 20 minutes a game but he is a major part of what they do well offensively.

With the Mavs often deploying multiple ball handlers in the same lineup, especially when they go to the bench, Powell’s role is to set high screens and facilitate hand-off’s and ball rotation from the high key area. He does not have a quick first step off the dribble but he is one of the quickest big men in the league when it comes to rolling hard to the basket. Powell has mastered the ability to read the pick and roll and the exact time to bail out of his screen and dart to the basket to show off his incredible finishing ability.

As you watch his offensive highlights, over and over you will see him set a good hard high screen, watch for the opposing big man to take a step, then fly to the hoop uncontested.  His ability to read the pick and roll and beat the help defense to the rim is a skill and a major offensive weapon for the Mavs.

With the Mavericks adding a shooting big man in Kristaps  Porzingis the middle of the floor will be even more wide open this season for a barrage of Dwight Powell smashes. By retaining Dwight Powell I think the Mavericks are setting themselves up for a great offensive season regardless of where the remaining $30 million is spent in free agency.  

 

Stats

Dwight Powell’s 10 points and 5 rebounds per game certainly doesn’t wow you but when you dig in a little deeper it is easy to see what an impressive player Dwight Powell has become.

2018-19 MP FGA FG% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Per Game 21.6 6.3 60% 31% 77% 5.3 1.5 0.6 0.6 0.9 10.6
Per 36 1662 10.5 60% 31% 77% 8.9 2.4 1 1.1 1.5 17.7

On a per 36 minute basis you can see that Powell’s relatively low counting stats are more a factor of his limited 21 minutes per night than his on-court productivity. He scores a respectable number and does so on some of the most efficient shooting in the league. His Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of 63.7% was good enough for 8th in the NBA this season. eFG% is a shooting percentage that takes into account the added benefit of shooting threes, he excels because of his ridiculously high 2pt percentage plus his ability to step back and knock down the long ball.

31% three point shooting is nothing to write home about but we have seen long stretches where Dwight has been able connect at a much higher rate. From January 1st to the end of the season, in 44 games, Powell shot 79 threes and made 39.2% of them.  In the previous season it was pretty much the same story, after a poor shooting first half of the season he turned it around starting in January, shooting 42% on 43 attempts.  I can’t pinpoint what it is that makes everything click for Dwight once the new year rolls around but if he can avoid the low lows at the start of the season he will be able to land himself an elite level of offensive efficiency.

Another factor in his offensive efficiency is Powell’s ability to get to the line and to knock them down. Free Throw Rate (FTr) is the amount of free throws made per shot attempted and Dwight Powell was 8th in the league in FTr. His high energy and aggressive rim attacking style goes a long way in putting foul pressure on the other team and getting easy points for his team thanks to his 77% free throw shooting, good enough for 12th in the league among big men. When you account for his efficient free throw shooting Dwight Powell landed at 3rd in the entire NBA with a 68.2% True Shooting Percentage (TS%).

Looking at some advanced stats for Dwight Powell’s 2018-2019 season we continue to see the incredibly positive impact he has on winning basketball. Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a stat concocted to sum up all of a player’s positive accomplishments and subtracts the negative accomplishments to create a per-minute rating of a player’s performance. Dwight Powell’s 20.4 PER was 37th in the entire NBA, right behind Deandre Ayton and just ahead of Devin Booker, ranking as the highest rating of any Maverick this year and the highest for a Maverick since the 2014 season.

Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) estimates the number of wins a player contributes for their team per 48 minutes played. Dwight Powell once again shines with this advanced stat, ranking 9th in the NBA in the league in WS/48.

As you can see, just based on a per game basis Dwight Powell’s production does not look like much but this does not mean he is not impacting the game. He has a great role with the Mavericks and knows how to make the most out of his 20 minutes per game to help the team win.

Top Games

Game Score Rating is just like PER but gives a productivity score on a single game basis. Dwight Powell had 3 of the top 6 individual Game Score Ratings for the Mavericks this season. You are not going to see any triple doubles or monster scoring performances here but you will see an elite level of offensive efficiency.

March 9, 2019 – Mavs at Wizards
MP FGM FG% 3PM 3P% FTM FT% REB AST BLK TO PTS GmSc
36 11 92% 1 100% 3 50% 10 2 1 0 26 27.9
April 3, 2019 – Mavs vs Timberwolves
MP FGM FG% 3P% FTM FT% REB AST STL BLK TO PTS GmSc
31 8 89% 0% 9 90% 8 2 2 1 0 25 28.4
February 25, 2019 – Mavs at Clippers
MP FGM FG% 3P 3P% FT FT% REB AST STL BLK PTS GmSc
37 10 91% 2 100% 2 100% 8 4 2 2 24 29.7

Sign me up for another year of Dwight Powell at 27 years old with top level efficiency and on a very reasonable salary. The cherry on top is all of the great community service that Dwight Powell participates in, one of the 10 finalists for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for 2019.  This is not just a win for Mavs fans but also a win for the entire city of Dallas.

 

 

 

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