Thanks to modern medicine and the tireless work of medical professionals, an ACL doesn't invoke the same despairing gasp as past years. However, the same advancements haven't found their way in reducing the lengthy effects of a damaged Achilles. In January of 2020, Dwight Powell suffered such a severe injury. Now, 20 months later, could a true comeback be brewing in Dallas?
Although Powell didn't explode on the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2021 postseason, he did manage to showcase flashes of his one-for-all energy. He moves around the court as a help defender and crashes to the restricted area as the safety blanket around the basket.
Such sequences appeared few and far between during his first season following the Achilles injury. New Mavs head coach Jason Kidd envisions a bright 2021-22 campaign for Powell, which is indicative of his decision to place him in the starting lineup.
During his time with the Mavericks, Powell inadvertently ignited a polarising rift in the fanbase. Either you think he falls too much due to a lack of strength or view him as an efficient rim-running big. Although both are true, Powell's ability to finish at the rim makes it easier to digest why Kidd chose him as the starting center.
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During Luka Doncic's rookie season, Powell presented the rookie with ample opportunities for relief in light of the 52 assists created by their connection. Before Doncic, Powell led the team in true shooting percentage and finished with the highest offensive rating.
The stats prove if you put Powell in the right situation, he will produce efficiently, despite the arm-flailing and constant falling, turning some fans off to the idea that the rim-running big is a positive player. However, as with most things, moderation is key.
Expectations for Dwight Powell
Regardless of what you think of Powell, Doncic has a rapport with him, and the starting center also exists as a Kristaps Porzingis relief plan. While it boggles the mind of a particular pocket of the fanbase as to why Powell is the early season starter, it doesn't explicitly convey he will finish games.
Besides, a lot of NBA coaches take weeks, months even, to solidify their starting lineups. Nothing is set in stone, especially Powell as the starting center. I imagine he will start early on but not play starter minutes. Ultimately, Powell should revert to the bench as the energetic backup big.