Powell Leads The Way In Raptors Second Straight Summer League Win
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
The Toronto Raptors moved to 2-0 in Las Vegas Summer League play with an 81-66 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. Rookie Norman Powell led the way once again.
Just two days after scoring a game-high 20 points in Toronto’s blowout win against the Sacramento Kings, the second-round pick dropped a game-high 19 points against Chicago. Powell added seven rebounds, an assist, two steals and a blocked shot to round out his line in 27 minutes of action.
“The thing with Norman is [his] physicality,” Summer League coach Jama Mahlalela said. “His strength is taking him ahead of everyone else right now. His ability to attack the basket, finish over big guys and then his shot’s falling down right now. When that’s happening he can be a special player.”
When he wasn’t putting points on the board, he was swarming his man on the defensive end of the floor, flying across the court. The Raptors continued their defence-first game plan and held the Bulls to just 31 percent shooting in the game.
“They made a bit of a run in the second quarter, but defensively we had connective stops,” Summer League coach Mahlalela said. “We’re hanging our hat on defence. This is a Dwane Casey defensive Raptors team. That’s what’s allowing us to play the way we’re playing.”
The Raptors won the rebounding battle against the Bulls, thanks in part to an eight-point, 12-rebound performance from Lucas Nogueira. The Brazilian big man also added two assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Ronald Roberts added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Powell is happy to have been selected by the Raptors and is confident he fits onto the team the organization is aiming to create. Getting an opportunity in Las Vegas to prove that he should have been selected before the 46th pick in the draft is something he is enjoying.
“I feel like I’m a first round player,” Powell said. “I told teams that when I went in to work out for them. I have always carried a chip on my shoulder. I have a lot to prove and I know I have a lot of doubters and people saying I don’t belong here. That’s just added fuel to the fire and anybody who is counting me out, I just want to prove them wrong and prove I’m a good player and I belong at this level.”
Known for his defensive abilities, the 22-year-old is surprising with the ease he is showing on the offensive end of the floor.
"We knew that he could defend, that was established, but we knew he definitely had an offensive game attacking the rim and we knew he had some sort of shot and he’s proving he’s spent time this summer working on it and excelling at it,” Mahlalela said. “If he continues to do that and get reps and repetitions that’s going to make him a dangerous player.”
Powell’s fellow backcourt rookie Delon Wright scored 10 points to go with three rebounds, two assists and a steal. Bruno Caboclo added 11 points, but it was his work on the defensive end of the floor that most impressed Mahlalela.
“Defensively he did a good job on [Bulls sophomore Doug] McDermott today,” Mahlalela said. “McDermott’s one of the best young players in the NBA today and Bruno did a good job of locking him down and taking a defensive assignment and excelling.”
It’s easy to see the added size Caboclo has added to his frame. It’s the extra muscle that is allowing the 19-year-old to stay with his defensive assignment.
“Bruno got knocked off the ball a lot last year,” Mahlalela said. “He was just so thin, so frail, but that extra strength, that 20 pounds that we put on in muscle allows him to take the hit, absorb it and still stay in stance and stay in the right coverage. It really is helping him.”