Our exit interview series of the 2023 Clippers continues with an examination of 6th man Norman Powell.
Weight: 215 pounds
Position: Shooting Guard
Age: 29 (30 in three weeks)
Years in NBA: 8
Key Regular Stats (for Clippers): 17.0 points, 1.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.7 turnovers in 26.1 minutes per game across 60 games played (8 starts) on 47.9/39.7/81.2 (4.6 FTA attempts) shooting splits (61.2 True Shooting)
Postseason Stats: 21.8 points, 2.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.6 turnovers in 33.4 minutes per game across 5 games played (3 starts) on 47.4/40.6/77.4 (6.2 FTA attempts) shooting splits (60.8 True Shooting)
Norman Powell had maybe the clearest expectations on the team after Kawhi Leonard and Paul George: be the Clippers’ 6th man and their third-leading scorer. Powell played just five regular season games for the Clippers in the 2022 season due to injury shortly after he was traded to the team, but he quickly won fans over with his aggressive scoring and downhill play. He was expected to play in the mid-20s to lower-30s in minutes, score at least 15 points per game on good efficiency, and close games on a semi-frequent basis to provide more “juice” next to Kawhi and PG.
Coming into the season at age 29, there was not really much thought that Norm would make any kind of a leap, whether improving on his strengths or mitigating his weaknesses (rebounding, playmaking, defense). Instead, it was thought that Norm would give the Clippers similar production to what he’d done the past couple years, and maybe be a bit more efficient due to playing next to Kawhi and PG.
Norman Powell, much like most of the rest of the Clippers, had a miserable start to the season. In seven games in October, he averaged just 10.9 points on horrendous 45% True Shooting while coughing up 18 turnovers to 11 assists. Rough stuff for Norm, who also started five of those games because of Kawhi coming off the bench (and then promptly missing a month of time).
Fortunately, outside of three games in March where he was coming off of injury and adjusting to a bunch of new teammates, Norman Powell was one of the only players on the 2023 Clippers who actually met if not exceeded expectations. In every other month, Norm averaged at least 16.7 points per game on at least 60.6% True Shooting – excellent volume scoring for a bench player on fantastic efficiency. That Norm was so efficient scoring on by far the highest usage rate (26%) of his career and with the highest per 36 averages of his career (23.4 points) speaks to how effective he was. Norm hit close to 40% from three on good volume (4.8 attempts), averaged the third-most free throws (behind Kawhi and PG), and got to the line at the highest rate of any non big man. In short, he provided diverse, efficient, volume scoring for a team that needed it.
As expected, Norman Powell did not contribute a ton else besides scoring for the 2023 Clippers. His 1.8 assists per game were tied for 10th on the team alongside Marcus Morris, which, considering his usage rate, is very low. Powell also chipped in just 2.5 rebounds per game, with a higher rebounding rate than just Eric Gordon and Reggie Jackson among rotation players (all are pitiful rebounders). Defensively, despite his reputation, Powell was below average for the Clippers, as could have been expected after his performance the past couple years. He’s not awful on that end, but a lack of attention to detail off-ball and sheer lack of size (despite his ballyhooed wingspan) on-ball makes him someone who doesn’t offer a whole lot on that end. Still, considering all the scoring, the lack of other stuff isn’t a dealbreaker.
Norman Powell had a mixed bag for the Clippers in the 2023 playoffs. Sure, his averages look great, but they were heavily weighted by his insane, 42 point on 15-23 shooting outing in Game 3. That obviously counts, and he nearly got the Clippers the win, but the rest of his postseason was less extraordinary, with a very good Game 5, poor Game 4, and fine Games 1 and 2. On the whole, Norm was decent, certainly not the Clippers’ issue in the series, but more inconsistent than you’d like. Of course, he was the 2nd option instead of the 4th, so it makes sense, and it’s hard to hold that against him in any way.
Future with Clippers
Norman Powell is, somewhat surprisingly, the current Clipper under contract for the longest distance in the future, as he’s signed through the 2025-2026 season on fully guaranteed money. Three years and $57.7M for a sixth man in his early 30s is probably not a great contract (it’s not an awful one either), so I’d guess Norm has fairly neutral trade value. Considering his friendship with both Clippers’ stars and his usefulness as a downhill scorer, he almost certainly has more value to the Clippers than to other teams. Therefore, while I don’t think Norm is a stone cold lock to be on the team next year, I would put him as one of the likelier guys to return to the Clippers after what should be a busy summer.