Norman Powell was selected with the 46th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, but his rights - along with a 2017 first-round pick - were subsequently traded to the Toronto Raptors for Greivis Vasquez. And what a deal it was.
The UCLA product was used sparingly throughout the first three months of the season, which included multiple assignments with Toronto's D-League affiliate in Mississauga, Raptors 905.
But due to injuries to DeMarre Carroll and James Johnson, Powell was thrust into the starting lineup in early February. After a few bumpy weeks, the 23-year-old found his footing in the NBA and blossomed into the biggest surprise of Toronto's season.
Thanks to a span in April that saw him average 15.3 points per game, Powell was named the NBA Rookie of the Month. Powell had some incredible moments in the Raps' first-round victory over the Indiana Pacers, highlighted by a thundering game-tying dunk in the team's unforgettable Game 5 comeback. Thus, #WeTheNorm was born.
Powell played in 49 games regular season games, logging an average of 14.8 minutes per outing. He averaged 5.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks and 0.7 turnovers. The San Diego native shot 42 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 81 percent from the free throw line. He started three of Toronto's 18 playoff games, averaging 3.8 points, 1.5 boards and 0.7 steals while shooting 39 percent from the floor.
Apr. 8, 2016 vs. the Indiana Pacers
Technically, Powell's best game of the year came in Toronto's season-ending triumph over the lowly Brooklyn Nets. But the shooting guard's performance against the Pacers in early April cannot be overlooked. In 41 minutes of action - a season-high - he collected 27 points, six rebounds and four assists. He excelled at the charity stripe, going 14-of-19 from the line in front of the Indiana faithful.
Feb. 2, 2016 vs. the Phoenix Suns
It's normal to see inconsistent efforts from NBA rookies, and Powell wasn't immune to poor performances. In Powell's first career start, he went scoreless with two steals, one turnover and two fouls in 15 minutes. The ever-serious Powell was -1 in the tilt.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
+Great finisher at the rim
+Vastly-improved jumper, especially from downtown
-Small for his position
Role Next Season:
Second-rounders are often perceived as throwaway selections, but Powell showed the Association why the draft has 60 picks. With DeMar DeRozan set to test the free agent waters, Powell will be given an even bigger role if DeRozan leaves the only franchise he's ever known. In year that will go down as the best in team history, Powell was a fantastic addition. He likely won't be thrown into a full-time starting role anytime soon, but the sky is the limit for this kid going forward. Expect to see more big things from our boy Norm Powell in 2016-17.
A GIF to Sum it All Up: