Norman Powell only gets better with age. In a 2020-21 season split between the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors, the 28-year-old guard averaged a combined 18.6 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Powell will be one of the best guards available this NBA offseason in the likely scenario he opts out of his $11.6 million contract for the 2021-22 season. He’s a savvy scorer who’s efficient from the field and holds his own on the defensive end. The second-round pick-turned steal is poised to corral an enormous payday this summer and could make a difference for either a contending or rebuilding team.
Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Norman Powell.
3. Toronto Raptors
Norman Powell was a vital player in the Raptors’ rotation for the majority of his NBA career, and he could return to being as such next season.
Playing home games 21 hours away from home, Pascal Siakam’s supposed issues with the coaching staff and the team missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years contributed to an unmitigated mess of a season for the Raptors. Sure, Powell was present for their struggles in the first half of the season. At the same time, the Raptors could be a prime bounce-back candidate if they play their cards right this offseason ($20-plus million in cap space and the fourth pick in the NBA Draft).
Powell has blossomed into a reliable scorer. He gets to the rim with ease and is unfazed by taking outside jump shots in a pinch. In his return to the Raptors, Powell could serve as the off-guard with Fred VanVleet handling the rock and Kyle Lowry departing in free agency.
Powell could return to Toronto and flourish once again in head coach Nick Nurse’s rotation. On the other hand, the Raptors’ NBA Draft Lottery rise (they went from seven to four) and rough season could lead the organization to go in a different direction. That could mean re-signing Gary Trent Jr., whom they acquired as part of their return from the Trail Blazers for Powell at the trade deadline.
2. Miami Heat
The Heat need to rebound from their nightmare first-round playoff sweep, which in theory begins with pushing the right buttons this offseason. Norman Powell would be a gritty addition to head coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would remain the offensive focal points, but Powell would be a tremendous enhancement for them on that end of the floor. Accompanied by Butler’s isolation play and Adebayo’s well-rounded offensive trove, Powell’s slippery scoring ability would fall under the radar a bit as he wouldn’t be the focus of opposing teams’ defensive attention. Powell would run around the baseline without the ball and get to the line by playing aggressive off the dribble.
In a way, Powell is a more established version of Tyler Herro, who would also benefit from Powell’s presence. The Heat would be investing around $20 million a season in a continually improving player who beefs them up on both ends of the floor and is entering the prime of his career. This team isn’t a finished product, anyway. Powell would add all the more intrigue to their operation.
With all of that being said, the Heat could opt to run it back with their guard/wing rotation, re-signing one or both of the Kendrick Nunn-Duncan Robinson duo. It’s debatable whether Powell is worth letting go of one or both of the youngsters.
1. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks need scorers and players whose skill sets fit next to Luka Doncic. Norman Powell checks both boxes.
Time will tell how new head coach Jason Kidd deploys the team’s wings. That said, the Mavericks have a roster adept at sticking outside jump shots, and Norman Powell fits the description. He’s shooting a combined 40.5 percent from beyond the arc over the last three seasons. Powell also puts the ball on the floor a bit more than the bulk of Dallas’ wings have in recent memory, presumably providing the Mavericks with another isolation player.
Working under the mindset that Kristaps Porzingis isn’t moved, Kidd and his coaching staff would have a compelling scoring trio in the big man, Doncic and Powell. All three players could play to their strengths. Doncic remains the driving force of the offense, while Powell serves as a secondary, off-the-ball scorer. When Doncic is double-teamed or can’t get a clean look, he and the Mavericks revert to Powell to get a bucket. Meanwhile, Porzingis can get more innovative with his shot selection, perhaps garnering more confidence. If need be, Powell could assume ball-handling duties.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has been a reliable and productive player for the Mavericks, but Powell’s game is a bit smoother when taking into account the frequency the Mavericks had Hardaway hoist up jump shots. Powell makes the Mavericks and those around him better. He poses an effective signing with upside for their sake.