There are many players on the Toronto Raptors that have increased their production. These players include Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and some bench players. However, one guy that is not talked about enough is Norman Powell. He has improved his points per game from 8.6 to 15.3 points per game. He along with others has also played a key role in the Toronto Raptors having the third-best record in the NBA.
The Rise of Norman Powell in the NBA
Norman Powell was drafted as the 46th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2015 NBA Draft. On draft night, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors where he has remained ever since. Powell averaged 5.6 points per game in his rookie season and increased that last season to 8.6 points per game. However, this year, Powell had several big games with the Toronto Raptors not seen before in his career.
His first road to fame in the NBA was not his offense, but his defense.
Toronto Raptors assistant head coach Jama Mahlalela explained this in a James Herbert CBS article.
“There was a tenacity to his workout,” Mahlalela said. “Almost like a ‘screw you’ mentality. Like, it doesn’t matter what people are projecting me to be, I know how good I am. And that’s what we see when he’s playing now, guarding Paul George. He knows how good he is, he believes in himself and he shows that. It’s not a cockiness, but it’s a confidence.”
Since his rookie year, his offense has greatly improved. Now, scoring 15.3 points per game, he is proving to everyone that he could eventually be an NBA All-Star. Whether coming off the bench or playing as a starter, he is proving to everyone that he is a player that opposing teams should fear every time he steps on the floor.
The Improvement as an NBA Player
Powell has improved himself and could be a candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year this year. This included January 20th against the Atlanta Hawks where Powell scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half. They needed all the points Powell scored, as the Raptors won 122-117.
Norman Powell and His Impression on Nick Nurse
Norman Powell is also having career-highs in many categories in addition to points per game. This includes free throw percentage, total rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game.
Nick Nurse was impressed with Norman Powell. So much so that he was thinking of keeping Powell as a starter even when VanVleet comes back according to Josh Lewenberg.
“Yesterday Nick Nurse indicated that Norm Powell’s recent play might make him reconsider his starting lineup once VanVleet returns. Today he elaborated on what would go into that decision,” Lewenberg said.
Norman Powell has emerged himself as the most important bench player for the Toronto Raptors along with Ibaka. At one point in December, he was averaging 17.7 points per game. Unfortunately, Powell’s injuries have been the only setback for him this season.
Norman Powell’s Injury Woes
He was injured for eleven games after dislocating his shoulder according to Sportsnet Staff. These injuries have continued for Powell. According to Blake Murphy of The Athletic Toronto, Norman Powell fractured his finger against the Detroit Pistons on January 31st.
Norman Powell will be missed by the Toronto Raptors. According to the Toronto Raptors website, he has scored 20 or more points 12 times and has led the bench in points 12 times.
However, with how deep the Raptors team is, it seems like any injury they incur, other guys step up. This includes guys like Chris Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Terence Davis, who are all having great years coming off-the-bench for the Raptors. For example, Davis scored 31 points against the Chicago Bulls.
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