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Raptors Norman Powell Finds His Stride

Maybe it was the pressure of signing a big dollar extension in the off season, but the Toronto Raptors young wing Norman Powell has had trouble finding his stride or even just holding onto a spot in head coach Dwane Casey’s rotation this year.

While not every appearance has been a dud, Powell has struggled with his shot, his judgement and even his usually reliable defense, but maybe, just maybe, he’s back on track?

With C.J. Miles out with a sore knee, Powell is earning another shot at a regular spot in Casey’s rotation. Over his last three games Powell hasn’t disappointed, averaging 9 points, 61.1 percent shooting from the field and hitting on 5 of 9 three-point attempts.

“Not playing too much recently, going thru some ups and downs during the season, but I think it felt good just going out there and just play,” Powell said. “I am confident in my game and what I do, make or miss. I feel I am one of the hardest working guys out there. I am always in the gym working on my game, trying to improve.

“Eventually it’s going to turn around. I just work too hard.”

A starting wing spot was Powell’s to lose at the start of the season and he lost it after 12 starts to rookie OG Anunoby when he injured his hip in Boston. However, shooting 40.9 percent the field and 30.8 percent from three in those 12 games meant it was going to be easy for Anunoby to show he deserved to keep the starting job after Powell got back and Casey wasn’t about to take veteran three-point shooter Miles out of the rotation, so Powell didn’t have many minutes to go after on his return if he wasn’t playing at a high level.

Fans in Toronto should be used to Casey using an 11 or even 12 man rotation as this team continues to be focused on player development even with expectations of another 50+ win season and the possibility of finishing first in the East out there for the taking. So, Powell getting garbage minutes to stay involved and regular rotation minutes as soon as anyone in a guard or wing spot goes down isn’t a surprise.

This time, however, Powell has looked more like the player everyone was expecting to show up in October. Maybe, just maybe, he can hang onto a spot in the rotation and someone else will see their minutes cut?

If the playoff version of Powell that got him the big extension is on the court, it’s hard to sit him down.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson