We like to keep things family friendly here at Raptors HQ, so I cannot write out the string of expletives that escaped my lips the second I saw this tweet:
Norman Powell has a fracture in his finger. He’s out indefinitely.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) February 1, 2020
The Raptors provided the official update shortly thereafter: Norman Powell suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpal of his left hand (that’s the ring finger) against the Pistons on Friday, and will be out indefinitely.
I don’t have to tell you that this is a colossal bummer. For one, Powell is having a career year, finally shedding his “inconsistent” label to be a steady presence, providing a scoring punch both off the bench and as a starter when needed.
For another, this is just the latest in a long string of injuries for the Raptors this year; Patrick McCaw, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol have all missed extended time, as has Norm himself just a few short weeks ago. Gasol and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are currently on the shelf, and McCaw is just coming back from a facial fracture.
The timing is also not ideal, as the Raptors are looking to solidify their position in the coveted two-seed spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They’ve also won 10 in a row and could use Norm’s help in tying, and then hopefully breaking, the franchise record of 11 consecutive wins.
For me, this one hits a little bit harder than the others, because I have been such a big fan of Norm’s, ever since the big dunk against Indiana in 2016. I’ve been pulling for him to find his role, and this year it was finally coming together for him. He shook off his shoulder injury like it never happened, which was amazing, and now he’ll have to do it all over again.
If there is any silver lining, it is that the injury is not to his shooting hand, and also, the Raptors’ training staff has extensive experience with hand injuries! Seriously, Blake or someone is gonna have to do a 6,000-word deep dive into all of the finger and thumb injuries suffered by this team, from DeRozan and the shoestring to Valanciunas and Draymond, McCaw and VanVleet last year, Kyle in the playoffs and again earlier this season, Matt Thomas this year... it’s a veritable epidemic.
Through 38 games this year Powell has averaged 15.3 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game, both career highs. His spot in the rotation is likely to be filled with more McCaw and Terence Davis, although perhaps we might see some more Matt Thomas too.