After gradually loading up the roster, the LA Clippers are primed for a title run. The returns of stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George already put them in championship contention. But the acquisitions of Robert Covington and Norman Powell add even more firepower to the roster. Not to mention the signing of former All-NBA point guard John Wall. Additionally, the re-signings of Ivica Zubac and Nicolas Batum. Last season, the injury-riddled Clippers needed every bit of offensive burst they could find. The acquisition of Powell gave them that burst. Although he only played five games due to a foot injury, he put up impressive numbers. In those five outings, he averaged 21.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. All on efficient clips of 50.8% from the field and 54.2% from three. But with all the pieces back in the fold, what are the expectations for Norman Powell this season?
Expectations For Norman Powell
Leonard and George returning to fold means playing time for Powell will reduce. Knowing Ty Lue and his rotations, he will likely keep George at the two and use Batum or Covington at the four. This way he is able to maintain his long lineups with plenty of defensive versatility and switchability.
Some believe that Powell can start at the point guard spot. But he is not a true point guard and the team already has Wall and Reggie Jackson to man the fort. All signs point to Powell being a punch off the bench when the team is fully healthy. And that is not a bad thing at all.
Powell was instant offense when he joined the team. Driving to the basket, breaking down the defense, and running off-ball sets gave the Clippers a legitimate offensive threat last season. If Lue staggers his stars (which he likely will), the Clippers will have the luxury of pairing Powell with Leonard or George at all times on the court. Not to mention a connector in Batum or Covington and a point guard in Wall or Jackson to pair with those lineups.
The main concern for Powell is if he can stay productive with far fewer touches. Accepting a bench role may not be too big of a concern, however. As Powell has never shown any ego issues and appears to be a team-first player. Last season, injuries plagued his early tenure as he was on a role before his foot fracture.
With Leonard coming off ACL surgery, the Clippers may be cautious with how much they play their superstar during the regular season. This may lead to more rest games for him and more opportunities for Powell to start alongside George as the shooting guard.
Expectations for the Clippers are as high as they have been since the team first acquired Leonard and George. With the loaded roster and a great coach in Lue, many have the team near the top of their power rankings. And for good reason. The depth may mean that touches will be down across the board. But it ultimately gives Lue a vast arsenal of tools to work with. And frankly, there’s no one else I would rather have at the helm.