Going forward, Powell and Wright will have a hefty load on their shoulders to keep this Raptors team in a top playoff spot.
The 2015 draft was a prosperous night for the Toronto Raptors. Coming off of their mortifying defeat at the hands of a sweep, delivered by the Wizards, Masai conjured a marvelous trade with the Bucks:
Bucks Receive: Greivis Vasquez
Raptors Receive: 46th Overall Pick (Norman Powell), 2017 LAC Lottery Protected Pick
Over some drinks with friends, we talked about this trade more in depth. Essentially, we flipped an aging Greivis Vasquez for Norman Powell and pick that helped us land Serge Ibaka. Although the years are different, you can visualize this as a (broken) three team trade:
Bucks Receive: Greivis Vasquez (TOR)
Raptors Receive: Norman Powell (MIL), Serge Ibaka (ORL)
Magic Receive: Terrence Ross (TOR), ‘17 LAC Lottery Protected Pick (MIL)
Oh yeah, and the Raptors signed Cory Joseph in the summer to fill the backup point guard role. That trade above, that’s one that you’ll do 100 times out of a 100 if you’re the Raptors. The Bucks, maybe not.
With Norman Powell as the 46th overall pick, he was the afterthought to Delon Wright at the 20th spot. Delon battled injuries off and on and only saw the floor in 27 games, for a total of 229 minutes, as opposed to Norm’s 49 games 725 minutes.
Fast forward to now. Kyle Lowry is out ‘till the playoffs, and the Raptors will have a hill to climb to have any shot at landing that 2nd seed. As of now, they’re still half-a-game behind Washington for that 3rd seed. When healthy, you can argue that this is the best ever Raptors depth chart:
PG - *Lowry / Joseph / Wright / Van Vleet
SG - Derozan / Powell
SF - *Carroll / Tucker
PF - Ibaka / Patterson / Siakam
C - Valanciunas / Noguera / Poeltl
* = Injured
Who would’ve predicted that in the season of 2017, the Raptors second unit backcourt would consist of Delon Wright and Norman Powell? For many Raptors fans, Delon sadly slipped off the radar while he was recovering from his injury. I say sadly because this dude is damn good.
A lanky 6’5 point guard in his sophomore season, Delon has the potential to cause all sorts of problems for opposing teams. From what we’ve seen, he’s a mid 30% three-point shooter. His matchups seem willing to back off of him and let him launch it, but that'll change soon. What I love about him is his calmness. He doesn’t look like a guy only playing in his 35th/36th NBA game. He’s poised, under control, and game by game - he’s gaining Casey’s trust.
In terms of foot speed, he has some trouble staying in front of smaller, quicker guards, but he can afford to sag off thanks to his supreme length. The best part about Delon’s defense; his size allows him to cross match with opposing shooting guards.This will allow for some monstrous defensive combinations with Powell.
The 2015 Draft Class in Action
With the Lowry injury, we will be seeing a whole lot of Delon and Powell. I don’t need to do a subsection on Powell, I’m on the hype train without a doubt. But I’m much more excited to see the draft class work as an underdog one-two punch on both sides of the floor.
With Delon’s willingness to feed the rock, Powell’s “Kawhi-like” relentlessness and drive, this backcourt is going to catch some teams off guard. But going forward, it’s going to be a battle. The Raptors need to win games now, there’s no time to “develop” guys. Delon and Powell will be developing in a trial by fire. They’re key role players on a win-now team, that needs to win now more than ever.
With the speed, athleticism and cross-matching possibilities of Delon and Powell, this combination will be fun to watch. It’s going to have its bumps in the road for sure, these guys haven’t even played two seasons combined. But as tough as it may be, we have to admire this development in action. If Delon can man the backup guard spot in Lowry’s absence, he may get some minutes in the playoffs, simply due to his immense physical stature for his position.
On that wondrous draft night of 2015, Masai stocked up for the future, but that future is here a whole lot sooner than expected. On that night, we made two picks and a trade that will be shaping how THIS season is going to finish, and how long it will last.