Article content continued
Still not sure what the Raptors should do about Norman Powell. He’s followed up his career season with some massive steps back so far, but, it has to be noted that three of his top four games so far have come over the last four (the other one being arguably his worst outing of the year in the loss against Miami). The team is 3-1 in his starts, 3-8 when Powell has come off the bench. Powell’s averaged 17.8 points on 55/40/100% shooting in his starts. The numbers sink to 12.5 points on 42/39/88% when Powell has come off the bench.
With Lowry and VanVleet both putting up numbers befitting all-star selections (or close), it’s not like it makes sense to bring either off the bench (and it’s simply not an option where Lowry is concerned). Going even smaller also doesn’t appeal. Lowry/VanVleet is already about the league’s shortest backcourt. Adding Powell at small forward and forcing Anunoby and Siakam to play up a spot isn’t viable on a nightly basis.
But how else do you get Powell going?
Is it a mental thing. What if they made VanVleet the sixth man, except he checks into games nearly immediately (in place of someone with early foul trouble, or Baynes, or even Powell). Would that be enough to spark Powell?
The Raptors also have to be pleased with the uptick in the play of Aron Baynes. Baynes has been protecting the rim nicely and grabbing rebounds far more efficiently and that’s enough to help the team quite a bit. Of course it would be nice if he could hit some shots and maybe get to the free throw line, but for now he can be useful setting great screens and defending and rebounding.
And now we get to see what the Raptors are made of in another two-game set, this time against Nate Bjorkgren’s Indiana Pacers. Bjorkgren, Nick Nurse’s former right-hand man, was a bit of a surprise hire, but has Indiana off to a 9-6 start with the ninth best offensive efficiency in the NBA. You can bet both sides will know what the other will do because of the long history between Nurse and Bjorkgren.