Ain’t no half steppin’, Norman Powell is about to be paid in full.
Eric B. & Rakim style.
The 2020-21 NBA season will undoubtedly go down as one of the most challenging and frustrating campaigns in Toronto Raptors’ franchise history.
Surrounded by the daily challenges of the NBA’s new health and safety protocols the Raptors are the only team not to play any games in their official market, with the franchise calling Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay home for the season.
Key departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol during the shortest NBA off-season added to the frustrations as Toronto unloaded two more key pieces from their championship team of 2019.
With Kawhi Leonard, Ibaka and Gasol shipped out to Los Angeles many Raptors faithful wondered who would step up and fill the scoring gap as Toronto looked to regain their championship DNA.
Enter Norman Powell, a six-foot-three guard who has been thinkin’ of a master plan and patiently waiting his turn since being selected 45th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and subsequently traded to the Raptors during the 2015 NBA Draft.
The UCLA Bruins product found himself in a crowded Raptors backcourt, learning the NBA ropes from Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and a thing or two from Terrence Ross.
Tired of digging and coming with lint during the first four-years in Toronto, the San Diego, California product ranked 53rd in the class of 2011 has gone from obscurity to nearly overtaking two, well really three, all-stars on his way to potentially becoming the Raptors leading scorer.
In search of a winning combination, following a mediocre 1-6 record to open-up the season, head-coach Nick Nurse inserted Powell into the starting line-up on January 22, 2021. Since joining the starting five the Raptors guard has been on a scoring tear reminiscent of the best scoring stretches by some of the all-time best Toronto players playing in a contract year.
Powell has scored 20-plus points in 18 of his last 24 games, including six games with 30 or more points while recording and surpassing his career-high on multiple occasions against the Detroit Pistons and his former head coach Dwane Casey.
Proving that he belongs in the conversation of the best Raptors scorers of all-time, Powell proceeded to light-up the Pistons for 36 points and five rebounds on 14-of-20 shot attempts on March 3rd. Five games later, against the same Pistons squad, Powell surpassed his career mark with a 43-point, 3 rebound outburst on a super-efficient 14-of-18 (.750 FG%) field goals and 8-from-12 from downtown.
Powell now joins Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry as the third player in Raptors history to have a game with 40+ points and .750+ field goal percentage. Additionally, Powell now holds the record for the most individual points scored against the Motown franchise, eclipsing DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points.
To put it in perspective, over the last 24 games, Powell is averaging 24.3 points per game on a ridiculous 68.0% percent true-shooting form, while converting on 53.4% percent of 15.8 field-goal attempts.
The eye-popping numbers don’t stop there, his 46.3% percent on 7.3 three-point attempts also propelled Powell into the top 15 for most three-pointers made this season. The free-throw numbers are also impressive, knocking down 87.5% percent on 4.7 attempts from the charity line.
As an unrestricted free agent and with 30 games remaining in the shortened 72-game NBA regular season, the Raptors front office will have to make a decision on Powell’s expiring four-year, $41 million dollar contract.
The Raptors have been keen on investing and keeping their young talented core, handing out luxurious long-term contracts to Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher and Fred VanVleet.
Will the Raptors open-up the cheque book and give Powell the type of long-term contract that he’s looking for? With clear gaps at the center position, will they opt to package Powell in a deal to upgrade the front-court spot?
While those questions remain unanswered, the one thing that is certain and guaranteed is that Norman Powell will be paid in full.
Pump up the volume! Norm the Storm season has arrived.