Learning from the Best

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A Student of the Game, Raptors’ Norman Powell is Always Learning

Norman Powell is in the midst of a breakout campaign.

The UCLA alum has taken a huge leap forward and refused to allow a shoulder injury to derail what to this point has been an incredible season. Averaging a career-best 15.9 points per game, splitting time between the starting lineup and the second unit, Powell is more aggressive than ever and has been shooting the ball better than he ever has.

Shooting a not too shabby 51.4 percent from the field and an incredible 41.2 percent from beyond the arc, Powell has transformed into a lethal shooter who is more than comfortable taking the ball to the basket at any given time. His play undoubtedly warrants some Most Improved Player of the Year considerations.

After a tremendous victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Gad Elmaleh of BallnRoll spoke to Powell, discussing not only his game, but who inspired the 26 year old shooting guard along his journey.

BallnRoll: Who did you look up to growing up? Did you try to pattern your game after anyone in particular? Did you have any basketball heroes?

Norman Powell: I had a few basketball heroes, but I always tell people that I try to emulate my game after Dwyane Wade. Similar size, similar athleticism, similar height, and then, just always trying to take the mentality that Kobe [Bryant] had. The way he worked and the mentality of always staying with it. Staying confident, just attacking, being aggressive, and always wanting to win – wanting to be the best. That’s how I tried to pattern my game – take Kobe’s mindset and Wade’s skillset, then just put them together.

BnR: So do you do more than just watch their games. Do you study them with greater detail?

NP: I would study them a lot. Growing up, I would sit for hours in front of the computer, watching different YouTube videos – highlights, game breakdowns of both of their moves. I watched a lot of Kobe mentality videos that people would make. Listened to his interviews and paid attention to how he would talk. Just see what his approach to the game was. I took a lot of time just sitting and watching, trying to grow my game.

BnR: If you like Kobe, is it hard to like LeBron [James]? Is it kind of like a Magic vs. [Chicago] Bulls type of thing?

NP: No. I respect greatness and those guys are great. I look up to all those guys, just like the way they manage the game and how they manage life. They sacrificed a lot to get to where they are so while I was going for the Lakers, I always respected LeBron and those guys – just how good they are.

BnR: You got to see LeBron, Dirk [Nowitzki], Kobe, all these people, but did you ever have the chance to study and appreciate someone like a Charles Barkley, or a Patrick Ewing? A John Stockton or a Gary Payton maybe?

NP: Yeah, definitely. One thing I learned listening to Kobe talk is how he studied the greats before him and how he would take different moves to help his game. So I definitely appreciate watching old hardwood classics on TV, watching those guys battle it out, and just see how the game has changed since then. Then I try to just pick up little things to help me.

BnR: I’ll give you a couple names and you give me a couple of words. Gilbert Arenas?

NP: Agent Zero.

BnR: Allen Iverson?

NP: Ferocious. Just a ferocious competitor.

BnR: Kevin Garnett?

NP: Big Ticket.

BnR: Thanks Norm, appreciate it.

NP: You got it.

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