Friday, September 26, 2014

Dwight Powell

Dwight Powell is a good example of the type of guy who can slip through the cracks in the NBA draft. The odds of any mid second round pick sticking in the league are not great, but Powell has the physical ability and the talent of a guy who could have went in the first round and has a chance to have a 10-year career in the NBA.

As a four-year player and a relatively unheralded recruit on a middle-of-the-pack team in the Pac-12, Powell never got a ton of national publicity. He shared a front-court at Stanford with two other NBA prospects - Josh Huestis, who achieved a brief measure of notoriety after OKC made him the first American born first round pick to go to the D-League and Stefan Nastic, a massive 7'0 with the size and skill to where he could make an NBA roster next season.

Stanford was a very unbalanced team last season, as they had one of the best front-courts in the nation and guard play that was average at best. They scuffled through the season with a 21-12 record and a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament before taking advantage of a weak draw to make the Sweet 16. Powell was their best player, but he didn't have the opportunity to put up the massive stats that scouts want to see out of a senior.

Powell averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal on 46% shooting - he did a little bit of everything for the Cardinal. However, because he was playing on a team that slowed the pace and didn't space the floor all that well, he didn't have a chance to rack up big scoring numbers. And since Huestis and Nastic needed touches too, Powell had to be a team player, moving the ball and not having a ton of offense run through him.

** Powell is not the same type of player, but a similar dynamic is why Chandler Parsons slipped into the second round.

At 6'11 235 with a 7'0 wingspan, Powell is a bit of a jack of all trades but master of none. He's very athletic for a guy with his size - he has a great first step, he can play above the rim. He can put the ball on the floor, play with his back to the basket, step out and hit the 20-foot jumper and facilitate out of the high post. Powell has prototype size for an NBA PF - he can bang in the post, clean the glass and move his feet on the perimeter.

As a result, he can fill a number of different roles in an NBA rotation. He could play out of the high post and facilitate offense in a starting line-up and he can swing between both interior positions on a second-unit. Powell doesn't have great length, so he's not going be able to protect the rim or match-up with some of the best PF's in the post, but his quickness should allow him to defend in space. His ceiling is somewhere around Markieff Morris.

The problem Powell could have is that while he is decent at everything, he doesn't have any one exceptional skill that could get him into a rotation early in his career. He's not a dominant rebounder, he's not a great 1-on-1 scorer and he's only an average shooter. The thing he should really work in his three-point shot - he can handle and pass, so he would be a real problem if defenses had to guard him 25+ feet from the basket.

I think he could step in right away and have a role as a backup PF similar to Dante Cunningham, but guys with that skill-set are hardly uncommon at the next level. As a second-round pick, he's going to have to earn everything he gets. He's already experienced the business side of the game - before his first training camp, he's been the property of three different teams and the Celtics already have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster.

With Boston already committed to so many other young PF's, there may not be a spot for Powell in their long-term plans and he might have to bounce back and forth to the D-League for awhile. Even if it's not with the Celtics, I think a guy with his size, skill and athletic ability will be able to find a home in the NBA. Powell has all the tools - he's the type of guy who could have a better career in the NBA than in the NCAA.

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