Portland Trail Blazers: Why Norman Powell is a key player in 2022

Norman Powell, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Norman Powell, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers main move in the 2021 off-season was re-signing Norman Powell.

Regardless of whether you liked the Gary Trent Jr for Powell trade, retaining Powell was a key piece of business in the offseason. The Blazers were over the cap and had no way of replacing Powell if he left.

Though the five years, $90 million seems like a big deal for a 28-year-old who relies heavily on his athleticism, this was the going rate for a wing in the current market.

Here’s why Powell is a key player going forward for this Portland Trail Blazers team.

As they are currently constructed, this Blazer team isn’t built the way you would expect of a team trying to contend. The projected starting lineup has three guards who are all shooters with Powell lining up at the small forward spot, next to CJ McCollum and then Damian Lillard.

Powell isn’t a traditional small forward, due to his lack of size at just six-foot-three. He does have a massive near seven-foot wingspan, but guarding long wings like Michael Porter Jr will be a problem for him.

But, Powell gives this team a presence at the rim that none of the other starters possess.

Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic are great players in their own right, but neither have the athleticism or finishing ability that Powell has. Not only can he finish strongly with dunks or layups, but Powell can also put the ball on the floor and attack off the dribble or from closeouts.

Regularly, when Lillard is double-teamed, the Blazers struggle to take advantage when the ball is moved around the perimeter after leaving his hands. But Powell is so key because of his versatility as an offensive threat.

This is also important to consider when you think about the fortunes of the team this season. Though there hasn’t been a major trade this season, if there was to be one if the team was struggling before the deadline, it would surely be McCollum on the block.

His skill redundancies in combination with Lillard, and the length of time that this team has been together with just the one conference finals appearance, likely means that McCollum would be on the move if the team was struggling.

McCollum is a great player, but after eight seasons alongside Dame, it would be time for a change.

Powell’s importance to the team would take on a whole new level, as he would be required to slot into the two-guard spot, a more natural position for him. The key to this though would be that Powell’s aggressive rim finishing, much lower salary, and his length, would all combine to mean the Blazers could swap McCollum for a superior forward if they were available.

There are no guarantees with the trade market, but if a difference-making forward becomes available, and the Blazers are struggling in the win column, then Powell can step straight into the two-guard spot and be a better fit with Lillard right away.

Powell may not be as good a player overall as McCollum, but he offers things that the Blazers just don’t have at other positions on the court. He is so important to their playoff fortunes this season.

Next. Portland Trail Blazers: 3 rookie mistakes Chauncey Billups must avoid. dark