Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)
Norman Powell came in like a wrecking ball during his rookie season with the Raptors and no one predicted that he would have that big of an impact. He brought a hurricane type force and mentality on every offensive or defensive possession, and that's why Raptors fans fell in love with him right away. Now we're on the eve of his fourth season with the Raptors and it looks like he has gotten lost in translation and experts don't know where he fits in with the Raptors' current roster and depth chart. For Norman, he has to feel like he's Waldo and waiting for someone to discover him off the bench so he can prove that he's the missing spark plug that the Raptors need to take the next step. At the end of the day, Norm definitely fits in with this Raptors roster but he can't afford to fit in when he was born to stand out.
This year, I expect Norm to make a big splash; not strictly based on intuition, but also looking at his past numbers and behaviors. If you look at his rookie year, he didn’t do anything extraordinary. Norm averaged 5.6ppg, at a 42.4% clip which is nothing to rave about, but his 3 point shooting was pretty good for a rook at 40.4%. His shining moment happened during the 2016 playoffs when he played incredible defense against Paul George, which included a steal during a crucial moment in the game, topped off by an emphatic rim-rocking dunk. The entire arena was in shock at that moment.
But what was more shocking to the Raptors' faithful was his disappearance in the following season. During the 2016-2017 season, Norm started in the Raptors' coaching staff's good book, but slowly found himself sinking into the unforgiving quicksand of the NBA they call "the bench." He never really dug himself out until he was given a helping hand from the Raptors' head coach, which led to him making a major impact during the first round of the 2017 playoffs. He came off the bench and provided the spark that the Raptors needed to close out the series against the Bucks. After that magical performance, experts thought that would guarantee him some heavy minutes during the entire 2017-2018 season, which didn't happen. Yet again he fell into the quicksand but this time he wasn't saved by anyone. He ended up shooting a career-worst 28.5% from the 3-point arc with minimal playing time.
When he was given an opportunity to make his case to be in the rotation, he never proved himself. He tended to force his game, which resulted in less and less playing time for the 3rd year guard. To be fair, he was never really given a fair shot for the entire season because his bench mates were playing so well together without him in the rotation. As a player, this would most likely discourage you and most would take it to heart and I'm sure he did at one point. Now, what makes Norm great is that he understands the grind and he knows that when he is given an opportunity now, he needs to consistently run with it. He needs to make it a marathon instead of a 100-meter sprint. If he stays true to that motto, he isn't going to have an issue this year. Norm is more than capable of being a lethal weapon in the NBA, he just needs to be taken out of the holster.
As we draw closer to the 2018-2019 season, one of the biggest questions that the Raptors' coaching staff has yet to answer is - how does the team use Powell? This year, he can’t afford to fall out of the rotation. He has all the talent in the world, but he needs to capitalize on his opportunity when it arises. If he can take advantage of his opportunity, then he’s going to stay in the rotation. If he doesn’t, you know the story. The 2018 season is going to be interesting one and everyone should have their eyes on Powell.
I expect him to stand out this season.
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