Title: Norman Powell re-focusing on defensive role as P.J. Tucker sets an example
Date: March 22, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Norman Powell’s search to re-discover his “stopper” label, and how P.J. Tucker is providing him a blueprint.
There have been a lot of eyes on P.J. Tucker of late, and justifiably so. From treating Serge Ibaka like a tackling sled to diffuse a fight, to guarding Jimmy Butler late in a tight game, and Paul George before that, to the tangible impact he’s had with the Raptors both on the floor and off since arriving at the trade deadline, Tucker has quickly endeared himself to fans.
But nobody is watching Tucker more closely than Norman Powell.
Prior to the Tucker acquisition, most thought it would be Powell playing in Tucker’s role. The Ibaka deal sent out Terrence Ross, freeing Powell to take the reigns as the team’s first wing off the bench. Powell also earned a reputation in his rookie season as a defensive ace, more or less forcing head coach Dwane Casey to use him. If anyone on the Raptors’ roster looked a kindred spirit to Tucker as a slept-on draft afterthought who built himself into an all-out, no-plays-off defender, it was Powell.
That’s something Tucker noticed almost immediately.
“He’s pretty intense,” Tucker said Tuesday. “He plays hard, and that’s one of the hardest things to do is play hard every possession. Even when he messes up, he messes up hard, and he tries to recover. He plays really hard, and you don’t get that from a lot of young guys.”