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Last year Powell had similarly stark shooting differences depending on if he started a game or not (52% and 44% from three vs. 46% and 34%).
“He’s played well here lately which is good to see. He’s found a groove a little bit and, again, it’s kind of translating to both ends,” head coach Nick Nurse said after Toronto lost against Milwaukee.
“He’s playing really hard on (defence) and pretty solidly down there, too, which is good.”
The defensive progress is a key, because Powell has been one of the worst Raptors defenders. If he’s at least passable, as he has been better than lately, the case for starting him gets strengthened.
It would mean Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby playing up a spot, meaning the Raptors would be undersized at every position though.
I’ve argued here before that even trying to start Powell, but removing him quickly for Baynes (against a true centre) and seeing if his numbers still surge, might be worth looking at.
Nurse also said it’s “a good sign” that Powell has been making strides as a passer and a decision-maker, especially on his drives.
If the Raptors went small would they get even fewer calls though?
Powell’s already concerned about the free throw disparity this season as it is:
“It’s tough when guys are getting into the paint and the teeth of the defence and trying to get shots off and you’re not going to the line,” Powell said.
“We shot 12 free throws to 26 (for the Bucks), and it’s tough to live like that. Getting to the free throw line balances out the game a little bit and we haven’t been able to get there consistently enough, or to get calls consistently enough, I don’t know which one it is. But yeah it definitely is tough. I don’t know,” Powell said.