If you're looking for one of the hardest workers in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks big man Dwight Powell might be your man.
Powell has been a staple in the Mavs' lineup since coming Dallas in the infamous Rajon Rondo trade in 2014, now ranking 11th in team history with 506 games played. And as springy and efficient as Powell has been over the last two years, outsiders probably wouldn't believe he tore his achilles in 2020.
Heading into his ninth season in Dallas, he is currently the longest-tenured Maverick on the roster. Last season, Powell was an iron man, playing in all 100 of the Mavs games in the regular season and playoffs. He averaged 8.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game while shooting an outstanding 67.1 percent from the field, which was the second-highest field-goal percentage for a season in Mavericks history.
As good as Powell can be at times in the regular season, that effectiveness just doesn't translate to postseason play. In Dallas' run to the Western Conference Finals, where it ultimately lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, Powell was reduced to averaging 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in just 13.8 minutes per game as the Mavs' starting center.
That postseason performance was so eye-opening for the Mavs' front office, that they not only went out and traded for Christian Wood, but they also signed JaVale McGee to a three-year in free agency, who claims he will be Dallas' starting center this season.
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If Powell's minutes were already being reduced significantly without Wood and McGee on the roster, what will his role look like now? And if he's going to transition into the Boban Marjanović role, which is mainly to bring good vibes to the bench, isn't $11 million a lot to pay a guy who isn't playing?
The Mavs could still end up keeping Powell given his deep ties to not only the team, but the community as well. It wouldn't shock anyone if he ended up signing a team-friendly deal next summer to stay in Dallas even longer.
However … for a team that still has certain needs to solidify itself as a true title contender, Powell's expiring contract could eventually be useful in a trade if the right opportunity presents itself between now and the February trade deadline. As much as the Mavs love Powell, they must let go if there's a legitimate chance to upgrade the roster around Luka Doncic.
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Executive Editor for Dallas Basketball, Inside The Rockets, Inside The Spurs, All Knicks, and The Magic Insider. Founder and lead-host for the Mavs Step Back Podcast.