Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet or Norman Powell as the shooting guard?

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 05: Fred VanVleet #23 (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have a choice to make centering around Fred VanVleet, considered one of the best free agents available this off-season. However, there are many things to consider as VanVleet would be merely one piece of a puzzle in building a competitive team.

In 2019/20, the Toronto Raptors’ roster broke down to five primary guards, including Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell. They then also employed six small forwards, three power forwards, and three centers. The roster, based on the effectiveness of the excessive number of small forwards and lack of a credible backup player at power forward, requires a shift in the balance of roster depth.

The Raptors could employ a shooting guard tandem of Norman Powell and Terence Davis moving forward. First, in terms of quality of play (+/- based on the difference between offensive and defensive rating), Fred VanVleet was +7 while Norman Powell was +9 in 2020.  The critical factor here is that Norman Powell played in just 28.4 minutes per game, while VanVleet played 35.7 minutes per game.

The season-average productivity between Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet is impressive because there is a similarity in those numbers.  Fred VanVleet had a scoring average of 17.6 points per game compared to Norman Powell, who scored 16 points a game.

Fred VanVleet grabbed 3.8 rebounds a game, distributed 6.6 assists, and stole the basketball 1.9 times a game. Norman Powell only falls off the mark with assists at 1.8 per game but grabbed 3.7 rebounds and stole it 1.2 times per game.

Their shooting efficiency isn’t dissimilar either.  On field-goal percentage, Norman Powell is better at 49.5 to 41.3 percent.  When their three-point shooting efficiency is considered, Powell is at 39.9 percent, while Fred VanVleet shot 39 percent. There isn’t much to choose between the productivity of these two guards.

With undrafted 2019/20 rookie Terence Davis, and sharpshooter Matt Thomas expected to play more prominent roles in 2020/21, it’s not hard to see why having both Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet is overkill. The roster has other needs, and these two players are statistically similar.