With Danny Green gone and a starting opportunity available, the Toronto Raptors will need Norman Powell to find the consistency that has eluded him throughout his career.
Norman Powell is not the best player on the Toronto Raptors. Clearly, this is not a point of debate amongst Raptors fans who regularly watch their games. There are no advanced analytics or stats that you could pull up to even start this discussion. No one (or almost no one) would try to insert Powell into that conversation.
However, I know of one person who earnestly believes that Norman Powell is the best player on the Toronto Raptors.
My father has only ever attended two Raptors games in his life. One in 2016 and another this past year. Though he is only a casual basketball fan, he cares more about sports than any person I know. He once earnestly told me, “If I didn’t have a wife and kids all I would do is watch sports all day”. A statement that would have been quite hurtful had it not been preceded by 28 years of excellent father and husband performances.
All that to say, I trust his opinion on sports. Which is why I was shocked when he was left with the same takeaway from both games that he attended. After each game in our post text breakdowns, he insisted that Norman Powell was an All-Star level player.
Should this observation by a casual basketball fan on two random nights change your opinion on Norm in any way? Absolutely not. These observations do, however, tell a story that is emblematic of his career so far. Norman Powell is the epitome of a hot and cold player. With him, the highs are high and the lows are low.
We’ve all seen ways that he has been great. We’ve all witnessed thunderous dunks and clutch threes. We’ve seen him step up for huge postseason moments. At one point the Raptors showed how much they believed in his potential by signing him to a four-year $42 million dollar contract extension.
Unfortunately, we’ve all seen the ways he has struggled as well. In his first season after the extension, he experienced career lows in points, rebounds, steals and 3-point percentage.
Powell’s hot and cold nature was also highlighted last season in the playoffs.
Powell was a healthy scratch in game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers in round 2. In the next round against the Bucks, he played a crucial role in helping the Raptors comeback from a 2-0 deficit by rattling off 19 points in Game 3.
It’s these contrasting moments that have made Powell the biggest question mark on the team.
In the 2020 season, Norman Powell will be given more opportunities than ever before. With the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, there is room for someone to step up and become a starter.
Norm will get the first opportunity, but in order to keep his spot, he’s going to have to perform consistently at his highest level. He’ll need to find consistency which has eluded him early throughout his career.
If there is any player on the Raptors who is fit for a best case/worst case exercise, it’s Powell due to the far-reaching extremes both sides can go.