In each of his past two years, Portland Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell has produced an increase in production. This season, under what he expects to be an “expanded role,” a chance for a third uptick will be within reason. Casey Holdahl, NBA.com’s Blazers beat reporter, took a deeper look into that dynamic, and how the combo guard has increased comfort in Year Two.
Powell expressed excitement about being able to “sit down” with each of the Blazers’ star guards, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, to discuss additional ways to further incorporate him into the system, and that, paired with wondering what could happen under a full season played into Powell’s decision to return on a five-year, $90 million deal. As Holdahl brings out in a Powell quote:
“I think it’s another reason why I came back, because there’s so much that I can do that I feel like, coming in at the trade deadline, it’s kind of hard to make everything mesh and work, especially as a coach,” said Powell. “You don’t fully know the player — you’ve played against them, you know the numbers and things like that but actually the abilities, what you can do and try to make it work with a group that you have is really tough. But to be able to go through a full training camp and really figure it out from ground zero, especially with a new coach, I think it’s going to be really fun and exciting.”
Powell alluded to a bit of this during his Aug. 10 interview with sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam. This time, Powell also discussed his experiences on-court with new head coach Chauncey Billups, and some of the ways they are seeking a chance-of-pace and less predictability.
“Just in talking to the coaches, they’ve been pulling me to the side, from Chauncey to the assistant coaches, talking to me about where they see I could be the most effective, different plays to be ready for, getting me to where I can be most effective getting downhill,” said Powell. “Even switching up who’s bringing the ball up, who is starting the plays, things like that to get me comfortable with having the ball in my hands a little bit more, finding the right spots, knowing where other guys have to be, really understanding the offensive playbook. It’s only the first few days but I’m definitely feeling more included on the offensive side of the ball.”
Based on this, all arrows are pointing towards Powell building upon his 27-game cameo with the Blazers in 2020-21. His numbers and overall usage took a dip in Portland’s guard-heavy offense, particularly in comparison to his Toronto numbers. The now seven-year guard has shown optimism that this won’t be a continued trend going forward.
Over the rest of the article, Holdahl gets more in-depth about Powell’s transition, his burgeoning relationship with Billups, and the process that helped Powell get more acclimated to Portland’s culture, among much else.