DALLAS - Two of the reasons the Dallas Mavericks believe their 2020-21 depth will be an improvement over where the roster was in the NBA playoff bubble met the media Wednesday during training camp.
Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson are back.
I'm “full-go,'' said Powell.
I'm "100-percent, ready to go, plain and simple,'' said Brunson.
The headline issue around here, when it comes to rehab, involves Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavs believe KP's knee will be fully healthy in January; for now he's doing "light shooting'' at practice.
But Powell and Brunson matter, too.
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“They’re two of our tougher guys in general,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’re two of our really important chemistry guys. They’re both ball-movers and energy-givers, so not having those guys on the floor was tough.”
Dallas lost Powell season-ending injury when he ruptured his right Achilles on Jan. 21. Dallas lost Brunson in late February when he sustained a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Powell, a team leader and an increasingly respected voice among players across the NBA, joined Dallas in the bubble for rehab, which he said helped him be “hyper-focused” and “hyper-diligent” in his work. But now comes competition, for both players - here in their own camp, as the Mavs, with championship aspirations, are deeper than they were a year ago.
Said Powell, who could end up as a starter at center (especially while KP is sidelined): “The objective is to win as many games as possible, so whatever lineups and whatever situations we need to accomplish that, we’re going to do it.''
Said Brunson, who will fight for time off the bench as a guard behind a group led of course by MVP candidate Luka Doncic: “It’s competition. It’s the whole NBA; You’re always competing against something.”
As this camp progresses, so will the competition. In the opening days, it's all about individual work. But soon enough will come the real thing. And Brunson and Powell are excited to savor it again.
“I never did before, but now I definitely won’t take this game for granted,'' Powell said. "It’s something that I’ve always kept in the back of my mind and something that just will always stick with me: Never take this for granted.”