Q&A With Norman Powell

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

When a draft night trade gave the Toronto Raptors the 46th pick, the team wasn’t expecting Norman Powell to still be on the draft board. The 6-foot-4 senior out of UCLA was the kind of player the team had been hoping to add to the roster. An experienced rookie with the athleticism and ability to affect the game on the defensive end of the floor, Powell doesn’t talk much about wanting to play defence, he just does it. Two weeks after getting selected — later than he’d hoped — Powell put each of the teams who passed up on him on notice when he became the only member of his rookie class to be named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team.

Over the summer, head coach Dwane Casey praised Powell’s desire to defend. Veterans Luis Scola and DeMar DeRozan have each spent time speaking with Powell about his performances, and the team’s assistant coaches praise both his potential and focus. After practices, the usual scene is Powell throwing down dunks with a ferocity that brings Russell Westbrook to mind. Not surprisingly, Powell names the fellow UCLA alum as one of his favourite players.

While minutes are harder to come by in the regular season, Powell has slowly worked himself into the rotation as injuries to Terrence Ross and DeMarre Carroll created an opportunity for him. As the high-flier continues to adjust to the NBA game, we talked with him about growing up a Lakers fan, game-day naps, and what it’s like to face off against the player you grew up watching.

Favourite player/team growing up?

Norman Powell: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers

Favourite NBA memory to watch?

NP: Robert Horry hitting the buzzer-beating three against Sacramento.

First basketball memory?

NP: Playing up at the base with my dad and playing with the other guys up there.

Best teammate?

NP: Khalid McCaskill in college

What makes a good teammate?

NP: Somebody who is always supporting. Giving you advice, helping you out, steering you in the right direction. Always there to workout with you, support you in your ups and downs.

Most memorable moment from a game you’ve played in?

NP: In my senior year in high school I missed one shot the whole game. I was like 19-for-20 [from the floor].

Favourite game-day meal?

NP: Chicken fettuccine alfredo

Pre-game nap?

NP: Naps, yes. I try to get a good hour and a half to two hours in. I do it every day, but sometimes I’ll skip out on it depending what I’m doing. but on game days I have to have at least two hours. You have to put the nap in.

First impression of the city?

NP: it’s really nice. Everybody is friendly and it seems like there’s a lot to do.

Who would play you in a movie?

NP: Will Smith

Favourite movie?

NP: My favourite movie? That’s tough. I have so many. I’m a big movie guy. TV show right now is probably The Walking Dead.

If you had a walk up song when you checked into the game what would it be?

NP: 30 for 30 freestyle by Drake

You had a photo on Instagram with Drake’s dad while you were at UCLA and your caption was about Drake needing to come out to a game. Have you thought about that since being drafted to Toronto?

NP: Yeah, it’s really funny that you said that. Drake followed me on Instagram and he liked that one photo.

Was it funny to think that he was scrolling back through the IG archives?

NP: I thought it was kind of cool actually. That he went through my Instagram and liked that photo, people were freaking out, like, ‘Oh. My. God. Drake liked your photo.’ I thought it was cool. I’m a big Drake fan.

Significance of your number?

NP: 24? I chose this number since I couldn’t have No. 4. That had always been my number, but I had to give that to Luis Scola. I’m always a big 24 guy because of Kobe. Growing up I used to wear 24 in AAU, saying I was the next Kobe, so I thought it would be fitting to wear this in my first year in the NBA [with No. 4 gone].

Were you nervous or excited checking in during that preseason game against the Lakers?

NP: I wasn’t nervous, I was more like, ‘Dang, that’s Kobe.’ During one of the timeouts, walking past him, I'm like ‘Yo, I’m like two inches away from Kobe Bryant right now. That’s crazy.’ I’m trying not to like, be like, ’Yo man, what’s up?’ I tried to play it cool.

Favourite Kobe moment?

NP: Besides the 81?

How old were you when that happened? Pretty young, right?

NP: I was in middle school. I was like 11. That’s not young. Besides him scoring 81 on…the Raptors… When he was fast breaking behind his back and reversed it, I think it was against the Rockets. That was crazy.

Any secret talents?

NP: I can play the piano a little bit. Just a little bit. I’m no Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles or anything like that, but I can do a little something something.

What would you do if you weren’t a basketball player?

NP: Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer, then I switched and changed that so I’d probably be doing something on T.V. Probably acting.

Biggest influence in your life?

NP: My mom and my uncle. The two biggest influences in my life.

Anything else you think fans should know about you?

NP: I don’t know. I guess they can find out throughout the year. Keep it mysterious. Keep it interesting.