Why Raptors’ Norman Powell is the secret star of the NBA trade deadline

Why Raptors' Norman Powell is the secret star of the NBA trade deadline

A good rule of thumb in preparing for the NBA trade deadline is to always remember that every available player is available for a reason. They are old, they are unhappy, they are defective, they are replaceable. Teams usually don’t find the cornerstones by the deadline. They add niche pieces for specific roles or aging veterans with enough leftovers in the tank for one final round. Vendors don’t sell their younger players with premium skills. They keep them.

This is especially true in attack. Multi-level scorers are usually impossible to find in the middle of the season. Vince Carter is the only player in NBA history to be traded in a season in which he averaged at least 20 points per game and shot over 40% on 3 points ( on at least two attempts per game), and he pushed himself for that. agreement. Lower the score threshold to 15 and the roster still only has 10 players. Raise the shooting threshold to 43% from there and the list drops to two: Cuttino Mobley in 2005 and Al Harrington in 2007. Both had more NBA experience when they traded than Norman Powell now.

This partly explains Powell’s availability. He started 119 games in his career, just 11 more than LeBron James as a teenager. In all fairness, Powell’s play didn’t warrant a starting spot earlier in his career. This is only his second season with a double-digit score. He shot 28.5% from behind the arc just three seasons ago. His rise with the Toronto Raptors was as meteoric as it was unexpected. Nothing from the start of Powell’s career suggested he was going to become one of the NBA’s top all-round scorers.

Still, here we are, one day away from a deadline in which Powell could be the top scorer ever traded. If dealt, he will become the highest 43% 3-point shooter ever traded at 19.5 points per game. The ends are not as impressive as the means. Powell generates points in every way an NBA player can. He shoots at least 41 percent on all three pull-ups and catch-and-shoots. He makes more fouls per possession than Kyrie Irving and Paul George, scores 64% of his field goals in the restricted area, and ranks at the 85th percentile or better in spotting, isolation and pick-and-roll . scoring efficiency. He is that extremely rare multi-level scorer, a possible addition of maturity as capable of creating blows as of taking advantage of those a superstar hits him.

This raises the question that frames most deadline agreements: What’s the problem? Why is it available? He’s not old. At 27, he’s still quite young, and given the few minutes he’s played and the games he’s started, there’s a case to be made that he still has a fair amount of room for improvement. Is he unhappy? Not that we know of. It is not defective either. His size (6-3) can be a bit of a problem defending in some clashes, but his 6-11 wingspan more than makes up for that, and Powell has never been a blatant negative on defense. He has played rotational minutes on a championship team before. Teams don’t have to worry about him getting played on the floor.

If anything, its flaw is that it too much precious. Powell has an $ 11.6 million player option for next season. He should refuse that and seek a salary in the order of $ 20 million a year. This is the one he deserved. Jerami Grant got a similar contract without ever releasing the numbers Powell now displays. Paying the market value of Powell might not bother some teams. That seems to bother the Raptors, who have spent the last few years carefully carving out significant ceiling space for themselves this offseason. They did it with Giannis Antetokounmpo in mind, but even with the superstars we’re talking about now, Toronto is nine games under 0.500 with Powell and Kyle Lowry in place. Wanting to reorganize around the existing core of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam is understandable, and that’s not entirely possible with Powell in the books.

Teams with more modest off-season ambitions don’t have to worry about this. Powell will be expensive, yes, but acquiring it now could allow an interested party with no 2021 cap to get it and use their Bird rights to keep it, when they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. to do. It’s a chance to get around not only the salary cap, but also historical standards.

Players like Powell just aren’t available very often. That doesn’t make him a superstar, but it does make him the hidden star of the 2021 trade deadline. One team is going to add the type of player that most league members don’t have access to at this point in the season. season, and if the right team does it, it will not only impact the playoffs ahead, but change the face of a rival roster for years to come.


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