Welcome back to the 3rd installment of Stevie Stats’ Dallas Mavericks Preview. If you missed Part 1 or 2 check the links below:
Today our focus will be the importance of Dwight Powell & how he will be the key to success for this seasons Mavs.
Dwight Powell was injured on January 21st after playing 9 minutes in the 1st quarter & just like that the Mavs season changed. Powell suffered a gruesome achilles injury & did not return the rest of the season or postseason. Lucky for us, Powell appears to be on track to start the season & contribute right away.
This is huge news for Mavs fans, players, & Rick Carlisle. Dwight Powell may be the most important player on the Dallas Mavericks team (besides Luka obvi). Dwight Powell possesses a number of skills that are valued very highly by the Mavericks front office & quite frankly are very difficult to replace.
Powell has the athletic ability & body build of a modern day center. He is big enough to bang in the post against the larger players, but also quick & agile enough to hang with the stretch forwards on the perimeter. This is an unbelievable asset for any NBA team & is the number one reason he is so valuable. Check out his body transformation over the years:
On the offensive side of the ball Dwight Powell is an elite pick and roll player. He has the ability to roll down the lane with a purpose and finish an alley oop – defenses have to respect this. Powell is also a good enough shooter to make the defense respect the pick & pop. He is not going to win any 3 point contests, but Powell has a good stroke and can step back and knock down the open mid range or occasional 3 pointer. That alone opens up the lane for what he really wants to do – create space in a Rick Carlisle offense for Luka, THJ, & co to knock down easy shots.
Creating space & why that is so important will be our main focus today, but before we get into that let’s take a look at some highlights that show the kind of player Dwight Powell is & the role he plays in this Rick Carlisle offense.
Pick & Roll
Luka Doncic sets up a Dwight Powell dunk with the behind a back feed off a pick and roll pic.twitter.com/9KwOtN9uWQ
— NickVanNotAStripClubThisTime (@NickVanExit) December 7, 2019
Pick & Pop Respect + Cutting Ability
Dwight Powell off the pick and roll pumps and drives right by Towns for the dunk.
Hit another dunk after this and is up to 20pts pic.twitter.com/oVBtVnNcf3
— NickVanNotAStripClubThisTime (@NickVanExit) December 5, 2019
— NBA (@NBA) November 27, 2019
Spot Up 3 Pointer
LUKA NO LOOK. WE REPEAT: LUKA NO LOOK.
(Also Dwight Powell is 🔥 from 3.) pic.twitter.com/rQEyQEssD5
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 10, 2019
Pass to 3 Point Shooter
Behind-the-head, no-look touch pass from Dwight Powell. pic.twitter.com/fErkEGfnDN
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 3, 2019
Nice set where Harris fills the space caused by Dwight Powell's roll. Carlisle continues to make things work with the pieces he's given. pic.twitter.com/8KOvNx15dv
— Sam Guertler (@SamGuertler) December 5, 2017
Assist 8: The Mavs used Seth Curry as a decoy and fake double-wide pin down screens. Anthony Davis anticipated that Kristaps Porziņģis was going to use an off-screen because of Dwight Powell's signal.
Luka Dončić saw this and threw the lob to Porziņģis after the aggressive cut. pic.twitter.com/of3Ikxgxj2
— Mavs Coverage (@MavsCoverage) November 2, 2019
Back to the topic at hand – Dwight Powell and the value he brings to the current Dallas Mavericks team. Our visual today showcases just how important Powell was to the Mavs by showing key team stats before & after the injury.
Breaking Down The Viz: For this viz, I chose Net Rating, Win %, % of unassisted field goals made, % points from 3 pointers, & % of assisted 3 pointers made. We look at each pre & post injury (pre is blue & post is green).
Key Takeaways: The most obvious takeaways from this viz is how much worse the Mavs were in 2 key categories – net rating & win %. The net rating of the Mavs went from 7 pre injury to 2.1 post & the win % dropped from 64.3% to 50%. Those are staggering numbers, BUT not the biggest takeaway from this viz.
I want to focus on the other 3 categories from this viz: % of unassisted filed goals made, % of points from 3 pointers, & % of assisted 3 point field goals made. The Mavericks were noticeably better in all 3 categories before Dwight Powell was injured, there is no other way to view it.
Before we break down each stat closer, I think I should explain why I chose these particular stats. I chose these because these are a way to quantify just how well the team is creating space, making the right passes, & taking highly efficient shots. When the players are spaced correctly, move to the right spot – the ball moves with a purpose, which leads to efficient shots. Dwight Powell is the man that makes that happen for the Mavs (with Luka obiv) & this is proof.
% of Field Goals Made – Unassisted: Pre injury the Mavs unassisted on 39.7% of field goals compared to 41.7% post injury (2% difference). Before you say a 2% increase isn’t much – extrapolate that out for a whole season & take into consideration how highly skilled NBA players are. A 2% edge is HUGE. To break this down a little easier, when Dwight Powell does not play we are 2% more likely to score unassisted baskets. This means the ball is not moving with a purpose & we are playing more iso ball – the exact offense Rick Carlisle despises.
% of Points From 3 Pointers: Pre injury the Mavs scored 39.6% of their points from 3 pointers compared to 38.4% post injury (1.2% difference). This is an interesting stat, because looking at Dwight Powell’s game you wouldn’t think he would impact made 3 pointers so much. He does not hit them at a high clip (29.3% career) & does not fill up the assist column in the box score (avg. 1 per game). So how come the Mavs make a higher % of their shots from 3 when Dwight is playing? Well remember spacing & the skills Dwight possesses, well those actually directly correlate to open 3 point shots. As we all know more open 3s means more points, which in 2020 are a hot commodity.
% of 3 Pointers Made – Assisted: Pre injury the Mavs assisted on 79.7% of 3 pointers made compared to 77.2% after the injury (2.5% difference). Again, this shows that when Dwight is playing the Mavs zip the ball around and hit more assisted 3s. Assisted 3s are the best type of 3s because most players are much better catch and shoot shooters than off the dribble shooters. It takes a special type of player to consistently hit 3s off the dribble as well as from catch and shoot opportunities. This is an easy way to get efficient shots regularly, make the extra pass & draw the defenses away from shooters.
To put a nice Christmas bow on this subject – Dwight Powell brings a special skill set that makes the offense hum in a way that it does not with Maxi or Boban (no offense to them). Without him the team is remarkably worse, does not win as many games, hits less 3s, & assists on those 3s less. Dwight Powell is the real MVP (not really though because of Luka, but you get the point) for the Mavs & if we want to go far this year a lot of that will rely on Dwight Powell & those boulder shoulders of his.
Be on the lookout for the final installment of Stevie Stats’ Dallas Mavericks Preview: Quantifying Luka Magic.
Image Credit: (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports