Mavericks: Is Dwight Powell the Right Fit at Starting Center?

Dwight Powell

Getty Dwight Powell goes up for a dunk against the Toronto Raptors.

While the Dallas Mavericks are just 5-3 on the season thus far, they’re still a top-four team in the Western Conference standings. They’ve had their fair share of issues through the first handful of games in the 2021-22 season, but most will have the opportunity to be straightened out. 

For starters, the Mavs have experienced quite a few injuries that have resulted in key players missing time. Most notably, Star forward Kristaps Porzingis has missed five consecutive games to this point, lowering the ceiling of the Dallas roster. 

Additionally, on top of Porzingis missing time, the Mavericks haven’t been able to get enough production out of their other starting big. 

Dwight Powell has been the starting center throughout the preseason and into the regular season to this point. However, his numbers have been less than ideal. 

How has Powell looked this season?

Low Production

When Powell plays well, the Mavericks typically have a ton of success. Last season, the Mavericks were 10-2 when he scored at least ten points. 

This season, they’re 3-0 when he scores in double figures. While this is great, he doesn’t put these numbers up near as often as he should. 

For a starter that plays almost 25 minutes per game, he’s got every opportunity to be scoring in double figures much more often. With Porzingis out as well as Maxi Kleber more recently, the Mavericks have needed Powell to step into an even larger role. However, he hasn’t increased his production. 

Through eight games this season, Powell is averaging just 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. While many centers in the modern NBA are true floor spacers, Powell has only taken five threes all year, knocking down two of them. 

When comparing Powell to other starting centers around the league, his production is among the worst. Looking at centers who have notched at least one start this season (44 players), Powell is 34th in points per game, 41st in rebounds per game, 34th in assists per game and 36th in blocks per game. 

On a team that has championship aspirations, Dallas needs more out of a starting center. 

Lack of Size

Powell stands at 6-foot-10, which is fairly undersized for an NBA center. He got away with this before his Achilles injury in early 2020 due to his athleticism, but has lost a step since. Powell doesn’t seem as explosive, which has limited his effectiveness on defense. 

Dallas has a ton of size. In fact, they’re one of the tallest teams in the NBA. They have four 7-footers on the roster, including two of the three tallest players in the NBA. 

With that in mind, they’re hardly using that size. Outside of Porzingis, their other three 7-footers are Moses Brown, Boban Marjanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. 

To this point in the season, these three centers have combined for a total of 135 minutes played. 

Dwight Powell

GettyDwight Powell talks to Mavericks teammate Boban Marjanovic between plays.

While they’re all three traditional centers, the Mavs should experiment with their lineups and at least see what happens. They’ve got nothing to lose at this point. 

They also need Porzingis to get healthy, who they could also try starting at center. This would provide much more flexibility in the starting lineup. 

If Powell or another center isn’t able to step up and prove to be a productive starter over the next few months, a center could be a target for the Mavs at the trade deadline. 

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