It is no coincidence, then, that the power forward has been given an opportunity to fill the void left by the departures, especially center DeAndre Jordan, who was leading the team in rebounds.
Powell, who is in his fifth season in the league, is coming off the first two starts of the season, including Wednesday’s win against the Indiana Pacers. In the four games since the All-Star break, Powell is averaging 17 points and 6.8 rebounds. In the first 53 games this season, when he was averaging 17.5 minutes, he was scoring 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game.
Powell is hesitant to make too much of the spark. But look at his increased minutes, for starters. He’s averaging almost 12 more minutes of playing time since the trade, and is playing 32.5 minutes a game since the break.
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“I’m just going out there and trying to compete,” Powell said after Friday’s practice. “I’ve been playing more since the trade, so changes in the lineup and our rotation and whatnot so just trying to go out there and compete every possession.”
Powell, who turns 28 in July, started 25 games a year ago after just five career starts over his first three years in the league.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised Powell’s work ethic on improving all areas of his game, including 3-point shooting and rebounding.
“He has developed real defined strengths,” Carlisle said. “The 3’s, he’s getting more comfortable with, that is pretty evident. The drive game is something he has developed over the last couple of years.”
Is it a case of his experience in the league finally coming to fruition?
“I know regardless of the time you get and the position you’re playing and the situation your team is in you need to compete every single possession,” Powell said. “I take pride in the fact that I’ve worked on every aspect of my game since Day 1. The more time you spend on the court and the more experience you have in this league the more comfortable you become all-around.”
Becoming more accurate from the 3-point arc, Carlisle said, has given Powell the advantage if a post defender tries to guard him tight.
“He is going by them,” he said. “He can finish, but he can also find people. He has good vision.”
His improved shooting touch, which includes 22 of 85 attempts from 3-point range this season, six shy of his career-most last season, has come the old-fashioned way, Powell said.
“Trial and error, unfortunately, is part of the process and trying to figure out what works,” he said. “Now I feel like I have something that is working well. It’s a long road to becoming a great shooter so I’m trying to put the hours in.”