Drafted by: Charlotte Hornets, No. 45 overall
Height/Weight: 6'11", 234 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Power Forward
Pro Comparison: Mason Plumlee meets Austin Daye
Twitter Handle: @DwightPowell33
Although he's not a marquee big-man NBA prospect and didn't put up gaudy stats at Stanford, Dwight Powell's tools and skills are valuable moving forward.
His size, athleticism and basketball IQ helped him excel during the 2014 Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments, and his solid predraft workouts have solidified his draft stock.
Powell's appeal stems from his role-player potential, as he has the quickness to play defense and the offensive skills to hit open shots and play above the rim. Within a few years, he could be considered one of the best steals of this draft class.
|Statistics at Stanford|
He's 6'11" with shoes on and owns a 35" vertical leap, so he's got the hardware required to finish above the rim and defend NBA post players. Powell also has a respectable 7'0.5" wingspan and a solid (but not massive) frame.
Perhaps the most impressive physical attribute, however, is his quickness.
He moves extremely well for a 6'11" power forward, as he can run smoothly while filling the lane or getting back on defense. In half-court scenarios, his lateral quickness will enable him to defend versatile 4s and attack the basket offensively.
While he's not elite or incredibly explosive, his size and spring will be more than adequate.
Powell isn't a traditional post-up big man, nor is he a primarily perimeter-based forward. Yet he'll find ways to score in the paint and from the outside at the NBA level.
He's been labelled as a face-up 4-man because he can square up his opponent and get to the basket with a couple dribbles or sink a jumper. When Powell finds creases toward the rim, he can elevate and score above the fray off drives, putbacks or lobs.
From a jump-shooting standpoint, he didn't really stand out during college, but his shot looked smooth, and his predraft shooting has been superb. He shot 13-of-25 from NBA range at the combine, and his stroke looked great at a recent workout in Las Vegas:
Draft Express scout Derek Bodner noted that Powell got to the free-throw line quite often and should draw fouls at a high rate in the NBA: "His athleticism helped him draw fouls on 20.5% of his possessions, a solid number which helped him maintain a solid level of efficiency."
At the very least, he'll be able to run pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops, along with several high-post and mid-range playmaking chances.
With 3.8 assists per 40 minutes as a senior, Dwight Powell is one of the most successful passing forwards you'll find in this draft class.
He's got a great feel for where his teammates are, and while he sometimes forces passes, he does a great job handling the ball and setting his comrades up for high-percentage opportunities.
Adam Ganales of NBADraft.net lauds Powell's passing talent, describing him as an "excellent distributor, surveying the action and possesses a natural guard feel. Basketball IQ is a considerable checkmark in his favor."
This will give him an advantage when it comes to establishing a key role permanently.
Powell's length isn't great, but at 6'11" he should be able to check most power forwards and centers he encounters at the next level. He's also 234 pounds, and he should be able to put on 5-10 more pounds even though he's not built to be massive.
Meanwhile, his foot speed is going to be the key trait that gives him versatility during the multitude of offensive sets he'll face.
Ganales noted that Powell's quickness will enable him to challenge opposing guards off screens and then recover to the post: "Lateral agility is an asset on the defensive end where he can hedge and return to position comfortably."
Powell plays hard on both ends and is a great teammate, but inconsistent assertiveness led to wildly inconsistent results on offense and the boards during his four-year career.
With a dip in production from his junior to senior year, there are obviously questions about whether he can take things to another gear in the NBA. Will he play aggressive enough and strong enough to contend with pro frontcourts?
It would be easier for him to play aggressively inside if he had a stronger base and a polished back-to-the-basket game. He can't post up against opponents and go to work on a regular basis, as he doesn't have great pivot moves or a left-handed hook.
Will he hit a wall developmentally in the NBA and become just a jump-shooter?
He's viewed as someone who can contribute early on, and rightfully so. Powell has a good grasp of the game and the instincts required to operate effectively in his squad's system.
In addition, his jumper looks more and more NBA-ready, as he'll be able to stretch defenses and get on the scoreboard via mid-range pick-and-pops and triples.
Although he spent four years at college and is older than most of his fellow draftees, there's something about Powell that makes it seem like he could hit another level.
His first couple years in the league might feature energy plays and sporadic jumpers, but if he cultivates his ball skills a bit more and adds a couple basic post moves, his outlook would change.
Even if he doesn't reach his best-case scenario, he could be much more than a back-end rotational player. Powell's ability to guard multiple positions and score from several spots on the floor would make him a key role player and one of the top value picks of the 2014 draft.