The recent trade deadline provided us with some big moves.
We saw the Denver Nuggets improved and become a legitimate contender in the tough Western Conference after acquiring Aaron Gordon.
We saw the Miami Heat become a more complete team with the addition of Victor Oladipo, who promptly hurt his knee. We saw the Chicago Bulls become a possible playoff team this season after acquiring Nikola Vučević and then we saw the LA Clippers land its floor general by trading for Rajon ‘Playoff’ Rondo.
Another trade that didn’t grab as many headlines is the Portland Trailblazers acquiring combo-two-way guard Norman Powell from the Toronto Raptors for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.
The trade is obviously a win-win deal as the Raptors got a young and high-potential guard in Trent Jr as well as a capable scorer in Hood, but the addition of Powell to the Blazers increased their chances to make a run in the playoffs.
Last season, the Portland Trailblazers got demolished by the LA Lakers in the first round of the Playoffs, 1-4.
That series showed how great the eventual champs were but it also showed a piece that the Blazers were missing; a reliable two-way player.
This year, once again, the Portland Trailblazers are looking pretty good. They’re sitting at the moment as the sixth-seed with a 31-22 record, a few wins behind from the current fifth-seed Lakers (33-20) and fourth-seed Denver Nuggets (34-14).
The Blazers have been impressive in the first half of the season but since acquiring Powell they look like a team that could be a problem in the playoffs.
Since moving from Toronto to Portland, the former UCLA Bruin has been making a difference.
In the nine games that he has played so far, he’s been averaging 16.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.7 SPG on 43.5% FG and 37.0% 3FG.
Before his addition, the Blazers only had a 116.1 offensive rating and 117.0 defensive rating. But after the addition of Powell, it showed that things would only get better for them as in just nine games, they now have a 115.1 inoffensive rating and 111.4 defensive rating.
His ability to attack the basket and create his own shots will be leaned on since Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will be have defenders draped all over them in the postseason. He’s shown in the past that he’s capable to go off and takeover.
Since becoming part of the Blazers, he’s been averaging 12 shots per game, five of which comes from within less than five feet of the rim.
His defense and efficiency will also play a big factor, since joining the Blazers, he’s had an offensive rating of 113.5 and defensive rating of 109.9.
In the playoffs, the 27-year-old Powell has been a productive piece despite not putting up eye-popping numbers. He’s been averaging 7.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.6 SPG in just 16.6 MPG while shooting 43.7% FG.
Portland’s never really gotten over the hump in the Lillard era, except for a run-in with the Warriors during the 2019 Western Conference Finals. In a loaded conference, it’s going to be hard to make a Finals run, but Powell may help them to a couple of surprise wins in the earlier rounds.
What do you think about Norman Powell? Do you think he’ll be the missing X-Factor that will help the Blazers have a big run this season? Sound off in the comment section!