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Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks' forward Dwight Powell is making the best of his starting opportunity

#dwight Powell

Dwight Powell may be one of the best-kept secrets in the league. Building on his career year last season, Powell has exceeded all expectations and numbers so far this year for the Dallas Mavericks.

His per 36 numbers were always impressive - most NBA bench players' per 36 averages are, but now that he's starting for Dallas we're truly getting to see what the 27-year old Canadian is capable of.

After coming off the bench for the entire season, Powell has since started the 15 of the Mavs' 17 games post-All-Star break. Over that stretch, he's averaging 15.4 points, and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 46% from three-point range.

Last season, Powell was one of the most efficient pick and roll finishers in the league. This year the added wrinkle of the three-point shot has forced defences to now pay attention when number seven is out on the perimeter.

"I'm working on all facets of my game as I have since I started playing when I was a kid," Powell told NBA.com back in January.

"I think it's important to always be kind of ready or have different things in your tool bag for different situations. In this league you always have to be improving, so that's the most important thing."

And improve he has. Powell has upped his points per game, rebounds per game and shooting percentage every year he's been in the league.

As his minutes have increased, he's also made himself a more efficient player. His 20.5 Player Efficiency Rating is the best of his career and his 68% true shooting percentage leads the entire NBA.

How he gets his shots has also evolved with his expanded game. Three seasons ago, just 5.8% of Powell's shot were catch and shoot threes - this year it's accounts for 25.2% of his attempts.

The evolution of his game has been gradual and something not everyone was confident would happen when he was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft.

"Hard work and spending time in the gym," Powell continued. "It takes time to getting used to this league.

"It's a lot different from college so for me that adjustment period is something that I had to stick with the process of developing and working on my game every day.

"Also getting used to playing with the guys in my lineup, that's what it's really come down too."

With the Mavericks eliminated from playoff contention and just a month left before Powell's offseason begins, naturally, the question of whether or not the Canadian will suit up for the national team is posed.

Powell plans on being available for Team Canada when they come calling for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.

He already sacrificed some of his offseason during the FIBA Americas qualifying windows to help Canada secure its spot for the World Cup.

"I think at the end of the day the way that the FIBA system is set up currently, the heroes are all the people that put in time," Powell told FIBA Media. "Whether that's guys who are in the NBA or whether that's guys who are playing in Europe or Canada.

"I think everyone had to make sacrifices with this new system. There's going to be guys that contributed a great deal that won't necessarily be on the box score of the World Cup, but that doesn't mean that they're not a part of the National Team.

"That doesn't mean they're not a part of what we are trying to build as a nation. I think we've done a great job of building a grassroots program in our country over the last couple of generations and I think we're starting to reap the benefits of that now."

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