The Toronto Raptors have a big, Kawhi Leonard-sized gap to fill on their roster. It doesn’t seem they have that star player on their roster who can take them back to the Finals for a second straight year. However, they have an interesting player in Norman Powell who can become the X-Factor the Raptors need to make a playoff push.
Fans who don’t follow Toronto basketball don’t have an inkling as to who the 26-year-old guard is. Raptors fans love him for his energy on both ends of the floor. With Kawhi Leonard out of the picture, his production is expected to increase.
However, there are questions that need to be asked. First of all, is Powell ready to step up big-time for the Raptors? Second, will Nick Nurse give him enough touches to thrive? Finally, is this his final shot at becoming a star player for the North?
There’s reason to believe Powell will be successful in Toronto’s first season post-Kawhi. He has everything he needs to succeed in his position. Here are some of the reasons why we can expect Powell to break out into the casual basketball fan’s consciousness in 2019-20.
Pascal Siakam will have a lot to do with his impending breakout season in the league. He blossomed into a player of his own during the Raptors’ championship run and will be the team’s anchor for the foreseeable future. Without the pressure on him to produce high numbers, he can focus on doing what he does best: scoring and being a pest on defense.
Another reason why he is primed for primetime numbers is the situation the Raptors currently find themselves in. They are championship contenders no longer; the label came and went with Kawhi Leonard going to Los Angeles. However, their newfound underdog status comes with benefits. Teams won’t be taking them seriously anymore, and this gives Powell the opportunity to catch defenders by surprise.
This doesn’t mean that everything’s served up to him on a plate and is just waiting for him to eat it. His off-ball defense can be suspect, and it’s been called out as something he needs to work on this season. He also has to be ready to take more shots while still maintaining his career shooting clips of 44%/40%/81%. He must not hesitate to use his physical gifts to make his presence felt on both ends of the floor.
This is the best time for Powell to put the league on notice.