Reggie Jackson or John Wall, that was the question.
Upon the acquisition of five-time All-Star Wall, most of the media focus was directed at the 32-year-old guard. And near his spotlight was his competition, Reggie Jackson.
But that shouldn’t be the only questions we Clipper fans should be asking when there are several names vying for jobs in the starting five, including defensive juggernaut Robert Covington, sharpshooting Luke Kennard out of Duke and scorer Norman Powell.
It remains relatively certain that the superstar duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will be in the starting lineup. And the longest-tenured Clipper Ivica Zubac will continue to grow as the trustworthy starting center for a championship contending team. But, much like the round-the-clock debate on who should be the team’s starting floor general, it still remains unpredictable who will get the nod to start as the Clippers’ two guard.
It could be George playing the two and a different forward like Nicolas Batum or Marcus Morris Sr. playing as the small forward. But if the seven-time All-Star takes on a more traditional forward role, the spotlight is open for either Covington, Kennard or Powell.
Powell, often left out of Clippers’ projected starting lineups for the upcoming season, has a strong case as to why he should be starting for the 213.
He is a three-level scorer that can do it all. As an undersized guard, Powell uses his speed and athleticism to beat defenders down the floor and soar up for a picturesque jam or an off-balanced ‘jelly’ lay-up. Hence, the nickname ‘Stormin Norman’. The former Blazer converted on 42 percent of his three-point shots, draining more than two three-pointers per game. He finished the season with formidable numbers: 19 points per game, shooting 46.1 percent from the floor.
What is the best-case scenario for Powell?
As good as the entirety of Powell’s season was last year, he was especially better when playing for the Clippers — admittedly, its a tiny sample size of just five games. But with a grain of salt, take it as a preview to what the Clips have in store for the upcoming season.
In just 25 minutes of play every night, Powell made it clear he was the best offensive weapon on the floor (George and Leonard were out with injuries, in case you forgot). In a Clippers’ jersey, he averaged 21.4 points on 51 percent shooting and an even more impressive 54 percent from long range.
Now, these numbers are destined to drop as he gets more games under his belt. Likewise, the return of two scoring machines in George and Leonard will see him less with the ball and a decrease in the usage rate.
But the best-case scenario would be for Powell to continue producing such volume at his incredibly efficient rate. His catch-and-shoot prowess and ability to quickly penetrate through the defense bodes well when combined with the offensive brilliance and the upgraded play-making of the team’s two superstars.
What is the worst-case outcome?
While a star-stacked and arguably the deepest team in the league can be reassuring for the coaches and the fans, that isn’t necessarily the case for the players — especially if their names aren’t Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
So the worst-case outcome for the 29-year-old would be to be injured or underperform and end up at the back of the bench. George, Kennard, Jackson, Wall, Amir Coffey and Terance Mann are all capable players that can replace his positional play on the floor. Likewise, veteran forwards Batum and Morris can consistently provide the three-point shooting that the Clippers need.
If Powell can’t play at the level we’re used to seeing him play at, his minutes and role might be reduced for the Clippers and their pursuit for the championship.
What do you think is the most likely role for Powell?
If he continues to play at this elite level, he could — and in my opinion, should — be the team’s third option that adds to the offensive output of the George-Leonard one-two punch. He’s more of a score-first player than John Wall and a more efficient scorer than Reggie Jackson.