Norman Powell isn’t used to slow starts, but four weeks after beginning his eighth NBA season by publicly stating his expectations of becoming his first All-Star team, the Clippers’ guard entered the locker room at halftime on Tuesday the Paycom Center only eight of his 32 shots and one of his 10 three-point attempts in the first 14 quarters of his season.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue entered the dressing room to get through to him. But instead of pulling him aside at his locker, Lue delivered what was meant to be a vote of confidence in Powell in front of the entire team.
“He came in at halftime and told me the next time I put my head down on a miss, he’ll take me out of the game,” Powell said. “So he’s pretty confident in my abilities and is weathering the storm and waiting for that one game where everything starts to fall.”
When this game comes along, “it’s going to be an avalanche,” Powell added. “Just be prepared.”
Powell didn’t drop his head in the second half of the 108-94 Thunder win that dropped the Clippers to 2-2. And Lue hasn’t given up his faith in Powell, the 6-foot-3 San Diego security guard whom the Clippers added to the trade deadline last year in a move billed as adding a third foundational play centered around stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be billed.
When a foot injury cost Powell all but seven games with the team last season, this season marked his first, expanded opportunity to show the skills the Clippers were raving about at the time of his Portland acquisition — the three-tier scoring, ability to defend his position well.
Though Lue doesn’t think Powell’s all-star standard for his game made him push, Powell acknowledged that after four games in which he’s hit 27% of his shots, he’s “nowhere I need to be.” ‘, including 8% of his three-point attempts. Powell is usually a master at one of the NBA’s dark arts and draws shooting errors. Powell’s free throw rate is less than half last season per 100 possessions.
Of the 194 players who have averaged at least 20 minutes per game this season, Powell’s 28.4% effective field goal percentage ranks second worst.
“I think I just need to relax a little bit and let the game come my way and make the plays that are in front of me, not just for me but for the team,” Powell said. “I’m going to go back, keep watching movies, keep finding ways I can be better, not just kicking the ball, but offensively, defensively, moving the ball, playing for others and just keep grinding.
“That’s what I’m about, it’s an obstacle and I’m going to find out sooner or later.”
The Clippers are hoping for earlier as Leonard misses both games of this two-game set with the Thunder with stiffness in his surgically repaired right knee and George misses Tuesday’s loss through illness. Powell has placed his faith in his work, suggesting that his slow beginnings eventually end.
In the 2019-20 season, Powell shot 40% overall and 26% from threes in his first 11 games. Then, in the last 41 games of the season, he shot 51% overall and 42% on threes.
In his first 14 games of 2020-21, Powell shot 39% – though 40% on threes. In his last 55 games, he shot 49% and 41% from three.
“One thing about me,” Powell said, “I always find out.”
Powell isn’t the only Clippers guard hoping for a quick return to production. Starting point guard Reggie Jackson is hurting more than he might be letting on because of a groin injury, Lue believes, but Jackson said the injury was “no excuse” for his game, which includes 30% shooting and defending, which he said allows opposing guards into the color too light.
Although the Clippers certainly want Powell’s shooting to resume, Lue would like Powell more to remain aggressive regardless and was pleased with Powell’s intent. His 30 rides lead the Clippers — though they’ve resulted in six turnovers and just six points for Powell.
“I’m not mad at his shot attempts,” Lue said. “I don’t really miss shots. I go off the way you play and tonight I thought he did a better job.
Powell “played right” against the Thunder by getting in the paint, Lue added.
“He won’t take every shot, we understand that,” said the coach. “He has to understand that and not pull himself down. It’s part of the game. Because he works too hard, he puts in too much work to get out of his filming slack.”
Powell continues to feel supported by his coaches and teammates. He smiled as forward Robert Covington spoke Tuesday, while Powell responded to reporters to say that over the course of a long season, “percentages are always going to change.”
Lue also tried to put some lightness on the particularly intense guard’s attitude when he told him during a previous game that neither Lue nor Michael Jordan took every shot they took.
“I chuckled a little,” Powell said. “It’s always good to have a coach who supports you, cheers you on and knows what makes you tick, and who definitely relaxed me a bit.
“I didn’t go out and suddenly turn around and hit every shot, but definitely a different perspective and just letting myself relax and ‘No, I got that,’ and I think that’s what he was trying to tell me. You get that, relax and let it come to you and it will happen.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-10-26/clippers-norman-powell-struggling-play-confidencen-tyronn-lue Clippers’ Norman Powell is struggling, but knows that will change