A torn Achilles tendon used to be the death blow for basketball players.

So, when Dwight Powell tore his in January of 2020, the worry over his return followed suit. However, by the start of the 2020-21 NBA season, Powell was ready to return to the hardwood.

His fight back from what could have been a career-ending injury is a testament to his work ethic and character. There was nothing that could keep Powell down for too long. And through the difficulties of his injury, he grew as a man and as a basketball player.

“I learned a lot about a lot of things. How to stick with it. Coming back from an injury everyone has their own experiences,” Powell said. “I learned a lot about myself and who I want to be moving forward. There are a lot of silver linings riddled throughout the last two seasons.”

The good:

It took some time, but Powell found his groove three-quarters of the way into the season. His best performance of the year came against the Los Angeles Lakers at a point in the season where the playoff race was heating up.

In 28 minutes played, Powell scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He and Doncic connected in the pick-and-roll multiple times. And the wealth of acrobatic finishes led him to an 11-12 from the field.

Outside of great finishes offensively, he found his role as the hustle man within the Mavericks frontcourt rotation.

Powell managed to play in 58 games during the 2020-21 season. He was a great insurance policy on Kristaps Porzingis, who spent the beginning of the season injured.

Powell did his best to fill any void Dallas needed. And by the end of the regular season, he rounded into the form fans have come to love and expect.

The Bad:

The start of the season, to no one’s surprise, was difficult for Powell. He often looked a step slow. He missed rotations. And he lacked the same bounce that made him a great roll partner for Doncic during the 2019-20 season.

Through January, February and March, Powell averaged only four points per game. He was barely seeing 15 minutes of playing time. And he looked on the cusp of falling out of the rotation.

He managed to battle his way back, averaging nine points per game through May. However, his early and midseason struggles provided enough concern to question if Powell, would ever be, the Powell fans knew, again.

“Anything is possible,” Powell said. “Everybody has a different circumstance and is dealt a different hand… It comes down to fighting for your dreams. Hard work, a little bit of luck, and consistency made this a reality.

“The future is very bright, and I am excited for the potential we have here.”

The ugly:

Powell’s comeback story fizzled out in the NBA Playoffs. For the first three games, he played a total of 15 minutes. He didn’t score in any of them. Game five was his best performance, playing 21 minutes and scoring eight points. But it would not get much better for him the rest of Dallas’ postseason run.

He never found a solid role in Rick Carlisle’s playoff rotation, even though he offered Dallas a chance to go small and match up well with the LA Clippers.

His future in Dallas:

Powell is a culture setter in Dallas, but with Carlisle and Donnie Nelson gone, his future with the team is currently unknown. He’s under contract for two more seasons at $11 million per year, but he could easily find himself involved in a deal once the new regime gets comfortable.

What is known is that Powell’s athleticism and basketball skill are back. His career was on the brink after his injury, but Powell’s not a quitter. If he finds himself still in Dallas at the end of the offseason, the Mavericks have, in Powell, a leader who inspires others on the team to be better.

“He goes hard,” Doncic said. “He gives the energy to this team. and he just goes hard all the time.”

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Feature image via Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports.