The first few times I saw Dwight Powell in action, I wasn’t sure I could support the significant number of minutes he was getting off the bench. Six games into the season and with the Mavericks sitting at 3-3, he’s really starting to look like one of the more intriguing players on the team and I’m starting to come around. I don’t think I can fight his high-energy, sometimes out-of-control play style anymore. I’m throwing in the Powell.
That said, he’s still very raw, and it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever refine the rough edges on his game. The fact that he can’t be bothered to slow down enough not to commit stupid fouls here and there, the fact that he sometimes misses point blank shots despite putting himself in a great position to get to the rim, the fact that his jumper is still erratic at best — these are all concerns about Powell going forward, but I’ve seen enough to know this experiment is worth playing out. Arguably more importantly, Rick Carlisle has seen enough to know the experiment is worth playing out.
The sequence of events in which Powell best demonstrated what kind of player he can be at his best took place roughly halfway into the fourth quarter, when he held his ground nicely against the immensely talented Anthony Davis and managed to block his shot. Five seconds later, Powell had run the entire length of the court and found himself wide open under the basket on the fast break that followed his block, allowing Dirk Nowitzki to find him with a great pass. This particular couple of plays, one on each end of the floor, allowed Powell and the Mavericks to really start pulling away from the injury-riddled Pelicans down the stretch. Powell also put together an impressive first quarter, scoring the team’s last 7 points.
Overall, the hyper Canadian went 7-for-9 from the field in a 15-point, 7-rebound effort, his finest performance of the young season. It’s hard not to feel a little fondness for the innocent, exuberant way the second-year player goes about his business; at 6-foot-11, he sometimes looks a little like a Great Dane puppy gleefully bounding around the yard and occasionally tripping over its own feet. Dwight seems like someone who’s giving everything he has, and whether or not he takes the next step and becomes a player anyone outside of Dallas ever hears about, he seems like a nice guy and an easy person to root for. I also can appreciate the fact that he gave the fine people over at Mavs Moneyball a long, very sincere answer to their burning question of whether or not a hot dog should count as a sandwich. I was tempted to pat him on the head just for trying so hard, but I imagine that would be a very difficult target for me to reach.
On the non-Powell front, Saturday’s game very nearly took on the ugly tone of the last two home performances after a brutal second quarter saw the Mavs go 5-for-19 from the field. Just when I was about to really lose it, the team recovered and played much better in the second half. If the Pelicans weren’t missing everyone but Davis, this would be a different story, but a win is a win.
Other bright spots included Zaza Pachulia being an absolute monster on the glass, snatching his way to 14 rebounds while longing for the cheese-stuffed khachapuri of his hometown Georgia, and three Mavericks aside from Powell also put up double-digit scoring numbers: Deron Williams (19), Nowitzki (18), and Wesley Matthews (13). It was great to see Matthews knock down a few threes and convert on one very nice drive to the rim, and Williams shot well enough to give me some renewed hope that he can recover from last year’s field goal percentage.
On to bigger and better things, Mavericks! By bigger and better things, I actually mean a rematch against the very same team.