Hardworking big man trying to establish himself
Written by Jose Colorado for On Point Basketball
Dwight Powell is bursting at the seams.
When scanning through the men’s 13-player roster for the Tuto Marchand Cup released on August 20th, you may have glossed right over the Stanford-graduate’s name, opting to gawk at the more established players that encompass the most talented Canadian team in recent memory.
Yet Powell, who is set to make his senior team national debut at the exhibition tournament today in Puerto Rico (Aug. 23 – 26), appears ready to establish a name of his own within Canada basketball regardless of the role given.
“I don’t know how much time he’s going to get in the games but rest assured whatever amount of time he does get in the game he’s going to bring that youthful exuberance,” said Dwight Walton, a former national team member who played in the 1988 Seoul Olympics for Team Canada, while a guest on On Point Radio on Sirius XM Channel 167 earlier this week.
“He’s going to do whatever it takes to qualify for the Olympics next year – a great addition to our team, no question about it.”
While Team Canada’s Head Coach Jay Triano understands young legs can bring about an unparalleled amount of skill, enthusiasm and self- belief that can sometimes trump the necessary diligence otherwise needed to complete a task, he also has said youthfulness can carry with it a level of oblivion as to the nuances often only gained through years of experience.
And that is exactly where Team Canada – and Powell – currently stand as they attempt to qualify for the Olympics beginning on Aug. 31 in Mexico City, and as the 24-year-old tries to establish himself in the NBA.
Powell hasn’t had it easy in the league since being drafted 45th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
He was traded four times in his rookie season and was sent down to the NBA Development League (D-league) before eventually landing with the Dallas Mavericks where he played in 24 games, averaging 9.5 minutes per contest and 3.4 points.
Yet for whatever circumstances that has been thrown his way, the six-foot-ten forward has responded.
During his 12 games with the Texas Legends in the D-League, the Toronto-native averaged 26 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists and shot 59.8 per cent from the field.
The big man then followed suit last month in the Las Vegas Summer League where he was named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team, posting 18.8 points per game and 9.2 rebounds.
“He is young but he’s hungry – he’s eager. He’s always willing to learn,” said Walton who was given full access to Team Canada’s training camp. “He’s always on the positive side trying to keep his teammates and himself upbeat.”
Now, on the heels of the Mavericks being stung from DeAndre Jordan’s last-minute return to the Los Angeles Clippers, and with a depleted frontcourt, it appears as though that positivity and persistence will pay off for Powell in his upcoming sophomore season.
“There’s going to be an opportunity for an increased role next year, and that’s not an overstatement,” Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks Head Coach, said to Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com earlier this summer. “That’s how strongly we feel about his ability to contribute, so we really like him.
“He’s been a real positive guy to have in the organization since he came over.”
Despite having to continuously overcome the odds throughout his basketball journey, for those who studied Powell closely, the position he has placed himself in comes as no surprise.
“Dwight is the hardest-working man in show business – there’s no question about it,” said Mark Cuban, the Mavericks owner, to Sneed of Mavs.com.
“And he works so hard that he’s just going to keep getting better.”
Photo by Charles Vanegas
Edited by Drew Ebanks