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Player Review: The ghost of Norman Powell

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Let’s take a look at Norman Powell’s less than stellar season. Did he do anything right, or did the Raptors light $42 million on fire?

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Oh wow, this is awkward. Coming into the 2017-18 season, the entire Raptors organization had very high hopes for Norman Powell. The season before, Norm played in 76 regular season games, starting in 18. He averaged 8.4 points over 18.0 minutes per game. It appeared that Norm had asserted himself as a solid pillar of the Raptors redemption team. With the exit of DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker, and Cory Joseph this past off-season, Norm was expected to be a shoe-in to play the wing opposite DeMar DeRozan in the Raptors’ starting lineup.

Unfortunately, the faith in Norman Powell quickly dissolved after he started the first dozen games of the season. After he tweaked his hip, Dwane Casey replaced Norm in the starting lineup with rookie OG Anunoby, and the results would end up being much more fruitful.

Now have to look back into the spiral and find out what happened to our Norm and saviour.

The Good

Uh, he secured the bag? On October 5th, the Raptors extended Norm’s contract for four years, and $42 million. That’s a lot of dough, but after his performance in the Milwaukee series where he saved both Games 4 and 5, Masai Ujiri was confident in the 24 year old’s abilities.

And, of course, who could forget his contribution during Game 5 of the 2016 playoff series against the Pacers? The legend goes a long way.

Powell did score 19 points while shooting almost 54 percent from the field against the Washington Wizards at the beginning of the season. While this would be his season high, he was also able to record 17 points on two separate occasions; first in a 112-78 win over the Atlanta Hawks, with Migos in attendance, which for a 24 year old dude would be pretty sweet, and again in March in an overtime win against Detroit.

The Bad

When Norm’s playing time began to dissipate, it appears as though his spirits did as well. Getting into his own head would prove to be Powell’s undoing. When he did see the court, Norm’s attempt to do everything would result in him doing, well, nothing. For example, in a loss to the Denver Nuggets, Powell scored 14 points, but was a -26, tying the lowest plus/minus of his career. His 19 point game against Washington would leave him with a -12. Meanwhile, a late season game against Boston in which he had zero points, Norm would finish with five rebounds at +1.

Norm’s inconsistency is what made him a liability for the season. Originally projected to be a solid as concrete 3-and-D player, Powell finished the season making just 28.5 percent of his three-point shots, while averaging more turnovers than steals and blocks… combined. Instead of using his ability to play on the wing, Norm often attempted to become the third play-maker on the court, disrupting the harmony and flow of his teammate’s games. It was a bummer to watch.

The Grade: Inc.

What we saw from Norman Powell this season is not the Norman Powell that was given 42 million dollars. Norm was his own worst enemy and the reason for his undoing was, I think, just him overthinking everything and playing like he had something to prove. Powell should know he has already proved his worth in past seasons, and that’s why the boy got the coins.

Hopefully, Norm has not shot himself and the rest of the Raptors in the foot by making himself untradeable with such a large contract for such an inconsistent season. I guess all we can do at this point is hope that Powell will spend the off-season clearing his head, and get back to the Norm of yesteryear.

Or that Masai is able to pull another rabbit out of his hat, like he did when we acquired him for the half a sandwich known as Greivis Vasquez.