Toronto Raptors: Who could be removed from rotation for Norman Powell

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors already have a full rotation. If Norman Powell finds a spot, someone will likely be removed. Who might that be?

Norman Powell opened up last season with a bang. Game one against the Chicago Bulls, Powell dropped 15 points, grabbed four rebounds, and went three-of-six from beyond the arc in an exciting opening win.

Unfortunately for both him and the Toronto Raptors, that game was the essentially high point of Powell’s season. Sure, he pieced together a couple of other good performances, including a three game stretch to start November, but after game one, every positive game or stretch seemed to be followed  by an equally disappointing one.

Despite his up-and-down performance, Powell continued to start until the 12th game of the season when he injured his shoulder. Powell missed four games due to the injury, and while he was out, his starting spot was poached by OG Anunoby.

Many have blamed Powell’s injury for his departure from the rotation last season. However, the numbers don’t really back that up. Powell averaged about 18.5 minutes per game in the seven games immediately following his injury and remained consistently part of the rotation until about the new year.

But at some point you need to earn your playing time, and to be blunt, Powell was simply not playing well enough. By the end of the season, Powell played sparingly, often times failing to even check into the game at all.

Poor performance can be a bit of a compounding issue. When you don’t play well, you receive less minutes. When you receive less minutes, you press the issue. When you press the issue, you don’t play well. The cycle can be hard to break.

Toronto fans and management hope that it breaks this season. Powell is slated to make $42 million dollars over the next four years, a significant investment. Another poor season and that investment starts to look like a sunk-cost.

So let’s assume the best, and project Norman Powell to be a steady contributor this year. If does crack the everyday lineup, someone else will likely need to fall out of the rotation.

Toronto played a consistent 10-man group last season. Typically, that is about as deep as teams go. At some point players need to find a rhythm on the court, and consistently subbing in 11 bodies makes that difficult.

Of course you can play more than 10 players at times, but in regards to consistent minutes night-after-night, 10 seems to be the upper limit.

So if Powell makes the rotation, who might find themselves on the outside look in?

It’s safe to say, barring injury, that Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and Delon Wright are all safe. Or at least something drastic would need to occur to unseat them.

That leaves Danny Green and C.J. Miles. (This isn’t even counting Greg Monroe who play a role, but likely not receiving minutes on a nightly basis.)

Danny Green

The path for Green to fall out of the rotation is unlikely but not impossible. He hasn’t been the same player offensively in a couple of years now, and entering his age 31-season, are we sure he has the athleticism to remain a top-tier defender?

If Green slips to even an average defensive player, Powell has the ability to surpass him. Green is a quintessential three-and-D player. If the defense is gone, all he provides is shooting. Shooting that has been eerily average the past three seasons.

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Green also played with a groin injury all of last season. An injury that certainly didn’t help his performance. He has also been banged up the past two seasons, and as you get older, you typically don’t get healthier.

I believe in Danny Green, but there is a scenario where this season ends poorly for him.

C.J. Miles

The most likely candidate to lose his spot, Miles is coming off a year in which he played good not great, and is also growing a little longer in the tooth.

He’s only 32, so a steep decline isn’t certain. But it is possible.

Miles is also the only player projected to be a part of the Raptors rotation next season who is not a two-way player. This team is going to be dynamic on defense next season, if Powell replaces Miles they might be even better.

Offensively, Miles provides only a marginal upgrade over Green. Miles is a better shooter, averaging the same percentage while hoisting up them up at nearly double the rate. Green offers slightly more in other areas.

Green has the possibility to lose his rotation spot, but at this time, Miles is the more likely option.


Last season Toronto was one of the healthiest teams in the NBA. Over 82 games, of course players missed time, but as a whole, the Raptors were very lucky. (Also a shout-out to the team’s training staff)

If (knock-on-wood) something more serious were to happen this season, Norman Powell or Greg Monroe would be the obvious candidates to soak up some of the additional minutes.

Next. Predicting the Raptors starting lineup next season. dark

Miles and Green are both rotation quality players in the NBA. If Powell returns to his former self, the Raptors have a very good problem on their hands.