Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
Most Raptors fans will remember the great impact that Norman Powell has had for the team over the past two seasons. He burst onto the scene in the 2015-16 season as a rookie, playing in a bench role for the Raptors during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. His most memorable play was probably in Game 5 of the first round against the Indiana Pacers. After stealing the ball, Powell broke into the open court and threw down a ferocious one-handed slam dunk that blew the roof off of the ACC. Powell also played well last year, averaging 8.4 points per game in 18 minutes per game. But, this year, it seems that he’s the odd man out, and in this article, I’m going to try to explain why.
With the Raptors having such a good bench this season, you would think that Powell would be a focal point of the bench unit. But, it’s been guys like Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet who have lead the unit, while Powell's contributions have been limited. He’s still averaging 17.3 minutes per game, but a lot of that was when he was part of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season. Now, he’s searching for playing time, while other guys take most of the minutes off the bench. Powell’s numbers are down by a tick in general this year, but he’s still averaging 6.5 points per game, which should give him more minutes than he’s currently getting. It’s a good problem to have if you’re the Raptors, but I think it would be a good idea for Dwane Casey to get Powell in the rotation more. Given the fact that their current starting small forward, OG Anunoby, is playing in his first NBA season, it's safe to assume that he might require some rest down the stretch, thereby opening up some playing time for Powell.
Like I said earlier, having too much depth is one of the best problems an NBA team can have, and the Raptors definitely have this problem. Norman Powell would be a great 6th man, if not a starter, on most other teams, but he’s struggling to find minutes on the Raptors. I do think Norm will play more as the season progresses, and his performances in the last two games (8 points in each one), will probably help makes Casey’s job difficult in that regard. It’s hard to imagine him playing as much as he did earlier in the year, but I don’t think the Raptors can forget about him, as he’s still a very valuable player and can bring energy and defensive intensity to the floor on any given night.
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