Second-round picks are hard to get too excited about. Rarely do the players snagged in the latter half the NBA Draft amount to anything worth remembering; improbable gems like Draymond Green and Manu Ginobili are exceptions, not the norm.
Searching for steals has been a particularly futile operation for the Raptors. Uros Slokar, DeeAndre Hulett, Remon Van de Hare, Tomislav Zubcic - these aren't made up names - they're all potential answers to a future Matt Devlin trivia question as Raptors' second-rounders who could never make it in the league.
All told, 13 players have heard their name called by Toronto in the final thirty picks - a set of players that has played just 600 NBA games combined. Take out the 255 games played by 2006 selection P.J. Tucker and the 160 played by Quincy Acy since 2012 and the Raptors' second-round track record looks even more bleak. For context, consider that Damon Stoudamire, the team's first ever draft choice, laced up for 878 games on his own.
That's a long-winded way of saying that Norman Powell, the 46th-overall pick, will probably never amount to much in the NBA. But that doesn't mean we can't hope and dream that Masai Ujiri just unearthed an outlier with the pick received as part of the Greivis Vasquez deal.
Here's what UCLA product Norman Powell will bring to the Raptors' organization.
Date of Birth: July 25, 1993
Weight: 215 lbs
Position: Shooting Guard
Ranked the #50 prospect by Draft Express, 8th among Seniors.
Stats via Sports Reference
Powell, 22, took an old-school college journey, the kind we rarely see in an era where one-and-done 19-year-olds are the target demographic for NBA teams in the draft. Coming out of high-school he was a Top-50 recruit, but despite his high profile, he failed to lock down steady minutes upon arriving at UCLA. After playing a bit part for Ben Howland's Bruins in his freshman and sophomore seasons, Powell upped his efficiency and production with a more prominent role in his final two college campaigns - and boosted his draft stock in the process.
He played well enough in those two years to be named an Honorable Mention for the Pac-12 All Defensive teams in both his junior and senior years, and wrapped his collegiate career with All Pac-12 First-Team honors this past season (along with Raptors first-rounder Delon Wright).
If Powell is going to succeed in the NBA, it will be because of his supreme athleticism and physical build. Sure, he stands just 6'4 - but you can't consider him undersized for a shooting guard given his 6'11 wingspan.
As his career numbers indicate, he's not a shooter by any means. The Draft Express video below illustrates his flawed, complicated release:
What the video also showcases though, is his Space Jam-inspired leaping ability. His 40.5 inch vertical jump ranked 7th at the NBA Draft Combine, and he puts that skill to use when attacking the basket. He's a smooth - and at times, vicious - finisher around the hoop. In his third season at UCLA, he showed some serious promise by converting 60.7 percent of his two-point attempts. With a success rate like that, his porous deep-shooting didn't stand out as much. A 10 percent fall-off from inside the line in 2014-15 amplified his shaky three-point stroke though.
Defensively, Powell is able to use his monstrous wingspan to hassle opposing guards, seal off penetration attempts and force steals - all things he will have to do at the next level in order to make up for his offensive deficiencies. Given his athletic ability, there is no reason to think he can't stay with opposing shooting guards. Not to mention, if he is able to carve himself out a steady rotation spot with the Raptors down the road, he will likely be able to guard the kinds of point guards that destroyed Toronto's perimeter defenders last year.
In a couple years time, a second-unit back court of Wright and Powell could be a defensive behemoth - even if they have trouble scoring the ball themselves.
As has been mentioned, there is no use getting worked up over a team's second-round pick. You could be disgruntled about the Raptors choosing Powell instead of Dakari Johnson (48th-overall) or Branden Dawson (56th), but it's about as logical as getting miffed over losing a roulette bet on Black-15.
Like with most second-rounders, it's more than likely that Powell's weaknesses will keep him from ever being a regular NBA contributor. Unless he can figure out how to knock down outside shots consistently, Powell's ceiling is probably as a defensive ringer at the end of the bench - kind of like what Chuck Hayes was in Toronto's big man rotation this year.
There is however, always the remote possibility of him re-working his game and becoming something more. Maybe he'll re-construct his shooting mechanics and become an ultimate "Three-and-D" guy, or become a defender so elite that he can't be relegated to bench duty. Hell, with his skill set, he could be a future out-of-nowhere Dunk Contest champion a la Jeremy Evans in 2012.
That's the fun part about second-rounders. When they do surpass expectations and become NBA contributors - or even stars - it's incredibly rewarding to behold. With Powell, it might be best for us to put him out of our minds, let him work on his game with the new Raptors' D-League squad next season, and embrace the bonus it will be if he does one day make an impact with the big club.
What are your thoughts on new Raptor Norman Powell?