Toronto Raptors: Is Norman Powell ready to make the jump this offseason?

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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors – Norman Powell (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Next up on Toronto’s offseason previews: Norman Powell. How well did Stormin’ Norman perform last season? What can he improve on? What kind of role can we expect him to play next year?

Norman Powell, by the numbers, had the best season of his young Toronto Raptors career. He averaged career-highs across the board – points (8.6), steals (0.7), rebounds (2.1), assists (1.5), eFG% (56.8) – you name the stat category, and it’s likely that Norm just put up a personal best.

His ascent has been spurred on by matching him up against bench units, where he is especially effective at cutting to the basket for rim-rattling dunks and launching catch-and-shoot threes.

In particular, Powell feasted on a diet of steady good-to-great looks from within 10 feet of the rim (where 46-percent of his field-goal attempts occurred) and on catch-and-shoot opportunities from beyond the arc (making up another 33-percent of his total field goal attempts). These are ultra-efficient looks and a staple of modern basketball.

Because of his selective shooting, Powell put up superb shooting splits of 48/40/83 (FG/3PT/FT) last season, albeit on limited volume.

While not exactly a lockdown defensive stud, Norman has the physical tools at 6-foot-4, 215lbs with great lateral movement to top out as a plus perimeter defender. He is likely best suited to guard either member of an opposing backcourt, or to roam outside the paint looking to jump passing lanes as a free safety.

In a season where Norm played 60 games and started just 3, it became clear that Powell was best utilized against bench lineups. Projected to be the Raptors starting shooting guard this upcoming season, Toronto will hope to see him take the next step and prove that he is ready to be an every-game starter.

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