After returning from injury and now leading the Raptors to a 3-0 week, Norman Powell has been named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week. If nothing else, it marks a small reward for the high level of play Norm has brought to Toronto in 2020 and really, for most of this season.
Some numbers: Powell led the East in scoring over the past week, posting 31.3 points per game — including a career-high 37 against the Warriors. He also grabbed 2.3 boards per game and dished 3.7 assists (a particularly striking number), while shooting 56 percent from the field. What’s been really impressive though is watching Powell because the steadying hand for the Raptors. Since his return second return from injury, he’s scored over 20 points in five straight games and often been the guy to get the Raps a bucket when they really need it. Other than a wobbly 1-for-6 from deep against Denver, Powell’s been lights-out from three, and his drives to the rim have found renewed purpose — hence the higher assist numbers. He’s making reads, passes, and quality buckets every time down the floor. It’s been something to see since watching Powell burst onto the scene as a 46th overall pick with promise back in 2015-16.
While it’s unlikely he’ll get any serious consideration for Most Improved or Sixth Man of the Year, Powell actually fits the profile for both spots quite well. He’s nearing 27 years old, having entered the league as a largely untouted prospect, and now posting career-best numbers on one of the best teams in the league. What’s more, Toronto needs Norm to be doing exactly what he’s doing so they can win — those aren’t empty stats he’s putting up. Meanwhile, as the result of other injuries, Powell has started more than half the games he’s played in, which mostly takes him out of the running for Sixth Man as it stands. But he is no doubt the kind of high-scoring gunner and game-changer who tends to win the award (see: Williams, Lou). We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out in this regard.
In any case, giving Norm the Player of the Week award puts him in august company with the Raptors. The last few names to be picked are familiar to any Toronto fans, of course — Siakam, Leonard, Lowry, and DeRozan are the most recent winners (plus Carter, Bosh, Lou Will, Jalen, and, hey now, Mike James) — but Powell is somebody brand new. At times over the past few years it felt like we’d never get to say this of him, but he’s definitely one of the more important Raptors right now.
And from now on, that’s the new... norm.