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NBA power rankings: Norman Powell off to strong start with Blazers

Portland is 3-0 since trading for Powell, who has scored 35 points in his first two games with the Trail Blazers.
Credit: Chris O'Meara
Portland Trail Blazers forward Norman Powell before a game against the Toronto Raptors Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers have played only three games since trading for Norman Powell but the results are encouraging so far. The Blazers are 3-0 since trading for Powell and a season-high 10 games over .500 at 28-18. It’s a small sample size but the data shows Powell is off to a good start with Portland.

Powell didn’t play the night of the trade deadline but the Blazers stopped a two-game skid with a 125-122 win against the Heat. Powell has played in the past two games, wins against the Magic (without Damian Lillard) and the Raptors, Powell’s former team.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Norman Powell, the newest Portland Trail Blazer

The baseline stats are very good. Powell is averaging 17.5 points in 31.5 minutes with the Blazers, shooting 52.6% from the field and 66.7% from the 3-point line. He’s also averaging 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

So far, in the two games Powell has played, the Blazers have been 16.6 points better with Powell on the floor than when he’s been on the bench and lineups featuring Powell have been overwhelmingly efficient.

LISTEN: KGW's 3-on-3 Blazers Podcast

A five-man lineup featuring Lillard, CJ McCollum, Powell, Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic played 13 minutes against the Raptors and outscored Toronto by 23.2 points per 100 possessions. The small-ball lineup featuring Lillard, McCollum, Powell, Carmelo Anthony and Covington played just four minutes together in the win against the Raptors but outscored Toronto by 20.9 points per 100 possessions.

Here’s a look at lineups that worked and one that didn’t featuring Powell:

LINEUPS THAT WORKED

  • Lillard, McCollum, Powell, Covington, Nurkic (13 min): +23.2
  • McCollum, Powell, Covington, Anthony, Nurkic (7 min): +14.8
  • McCollum, Powell, Covington, Anthony, Kanter (5 min): +40.0
  • Lillard, McCollum, Powell, Anthony, Covington (4 min): +20.9

LINEUPS THAT DIDN'T WORK

  • McCollum, Powell, Jones Jr., Covington, Nurkic (10 min): -21.7

The small sample size means little substantive can be gleaned from the lineup data at this time, but it's worth noting and monitoring going forward.

RELATED: Portland Trail Blazers trade for sharpshooter Norman Powell

The Blazers will try to sweep a four-game road trip with a win Wednesday against Detroit. If Portland beats the Pistons, it would complete an impressive month for the Blazers with 11 wins in March against just four losses.

April will be a bigger challenge. The Blazers play 16 games next month, nine against teams with winning records. The teams Portland faces in April have an average winning percentage of .542.

Here’s how the Blazers fared in the latest batch of NBA power rankings:

The Athletic: Blazers rank No. 8 (no change)

What they wrote: The Portland Trail Blazers went all-in on offense by acquiring Norman Powell, but Terry Stotts and company believe their defense will improve simply by getting healthy and having all of their pieces fall into place. The Blazers have won 10 of their last 14 games, but Portland definitely isn’t better than the seven teams above it (at least not right now). So moving the Blazers up with a 3-1 week wasn’t going to happen. Getting Jusuf Nurkic back is huge for them, but we still don’t know if we’ll ever see this team fully healthy this season. — Zach Harper

CBS Sports: Blazers rank No. 8 (up 1)

What they wrote: Portland added another scorer at the deadline in Norman Powell, who will take some offensive pressure off Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, while sacrificing some wing size with the departure of Gary Trent Jr. The Blazers lost to the Nets before sweeping the Florida teams (Heat, Magic, Raptors) to close out the week. Powell averaged 17.5 points and hit 6-of-9 3-pointers in his first two games with the team, while McCollum has started to get going after a lengthy absence, averaging 27 points over his last three games. — Colin Ward-Henninger

ESPN: Blazers rank No. 9 (no change)

What they wrote: The addition of Norman Powell is an interesting one for the Blazers. They are clearly in search of a two-way upgrade and defensive versatility to complement Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but it also opens the door for small-ball lineups with Robert Covington playing the 4. As Portland gets healthy and its depth has been reinforced, it has the look of a dangerous group that might be a bigger playoff threat than some are giving the Blazers credit for. — Royce Young

NBA.com: Blazers rank No. 10 (no change)

What they wrote: The Blazers got CJ McCollum back two weeks ago, traded two rotation wings for Norman Powell on Thursday, and got Jusuf Nurkic back from a 10-week absence over the weekend. Those are all major changes. But this team seems to play the same game every night, no matter who’s in the lineup around Damian Lillard and no matter who the opponent might be. The offense is great, the defense is terrible, and nothing is determined until the last few minutes. Since the All-Star break, the Blazers rank first offensively (119.1 points scored per 100 possessions) and last defensively (120.6 allowed per 100). Nine of their 11 post-break games have been within five points in the last five minutes, they’ve won seven of those nine close games, lost the other two, and have a negative point differential over the entire stretch. Powell totaled 35 points (shooting 6-for-9 from 3-point range) in his first two games as a Blazer, and Portland allowed just 102 points per 100 possessions in his 63 minutes on the floor. He started for Lillard on Friday and bumped Derrick Jones Jr. to the bench when everybody was healthy on Sunday. — John Schuhmann