Second round pick. Short for his position. Buried in a deep wing rotation. Sharing the end of the bench with a guy taken 26 spots earlier in the same draft, two long-limbed sophomores and a former first-overall Canadian prospect (though, er, not so much that last one anymore).
And Norman Powell has found his way into the Raptors rotation.
Now, yes, DeMarre Carroll has been injured all year, and James Johnson has been suffering from injury as well (and general sporadic uselessness). And Terrence Ross has missed time recently.
And the Norman Powell experiment did not exactly start smoothly. He first started and/or played significant minutes for a stretch of five games in February. His 25% FG% and 0-of-5 from 3 are pretty good indicators of his initial struggles.
He returned to the D-League for a few weeks, then came back at the start of March and hasn't looked back. He's played in 13 of the 14 games since that return, starting in 11 of them. He's up to 41% from the field and 41% from 3 (on 3.4 attempts a game), good for a 53.7 TS% in those 14 games.
He's not just scoring, either. He's pulling down 8.5% of available rebounds, right around where Patrick Patterson and James Johnson sit over that time span -- more rebounds than DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry or Cory Joseph, all very capable rebounders at their positions.
He's not proven to be any sort of elixir for the starting lineup, just another name at the small forward position to add to the variations that have made no difference for that group (that list includes DeMarre Carroll, James Johnson, Terrence Ross, and now Norman Powell). But that's no surprise, and it's no surprise that Powell's on-court numbers are not great because of his inclusion in that group. And to his credit, the lineup's -4 net rating over the last 14 games is pretty comparable to when DeMarre Carroll was playing there (-2.8), and better than when James Johnson was (-5.7). Not bad for a second round rookie.
As with every other small forward before him, it would be nice to get a larger sample of minutes with the starters, but with Patterson instead of Scola. That lineup has played five minutes compared to the 67 minutes the actual starters have played over the past 14 games. Although the +49 net rating they carried in those 5 minutes suggest Powell might be doing just fine.
Which is great news, with the rumours that Carroll might be done for the year meaning that Norman Powell, second round draft pick last spring, against the odds, could be the starting small forward for the playoffs. And against even greater odds -- the team might not be any worse for it.
All stats from NBA.com and basketball-reference.com.