NBA Trade Deadline Means New Faces in Different Places

Everybody knows that the best way to become well-liked and gain trust in a new environment is to first create a good first impression.

Well, when it comes to NBA basketball, the best way to really show your worth after being moved by the trade deadline is by balling out for whatever new team you land on. So, this week we are going to focus on guys who are setting up shop somewhere else in hopes of finding a new home after Thursday’s much-anticipated NBA Trade Deadline.

In particular, we are going to lock in and praise two guys who were having pretty good seasons thus far as part of their previous teams and kicked off post-NBA Trade Deadline weekend with a bang as members of their new teams.

With that being said, this week’s Hoopers of the Week are newly acquired Chicago Bull Nikola Vucevic staying in the Eastern Conference and former NBA champion Norman Powell who has gone west as a new member of the Portland Trailblazers. Let’s get into it!

Nikola Vucevic

As the first domino to fall for the Orlando Magic during their fire sale of moves at the trade deadline, Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls may have been the most unanticipated move of the day.

Power forward Aaron Gordon publicly put out a trade request earlier in the week which only further influenced his move to Denver. Evan Fournier is on the last year of his five-year $85 million contract and will be looking for another long-term contract in the summer. Something that the Orlando Magic could not or did not want to provide him with.

So those guys being moved made sense, but Vucevic has been the best Orlando Magic player of the post-Dwight Howard era. It just seemed impossible that they would really move off of a two-time All-Star like him for anything less than established young All-Star. Nonetheless, the Magic moved him and Al-Farouq Aminu to Chicago in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks.

But enough with the details of the trade situation, let’s talk about how Mr. Buckets and Boards himself was getting busy in the low post this week. As a member of the Orlando Magic, he went 1-1 in matchups against the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns.

Starting with the matchup against the Nuggets on Tuesday, Vucevic had a rough night but still managed to do his thing with a solid 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and a block. On high volume, the shots were just not going down as he went 8-of-25 from the floor and 2-of-8 from three. The Magic lost the game to the tune of 110-99 as Nikola Jokic went off for a triple-double with 28 points, 15 boards, and ten assists.

In the second game of a back-to-back, Vucevic came out swinging against the Phoenix Suns. He produced a routine double-double with 27 points and 14 rebounds along with four assists, a steal, and a block. The real bounce back shows in how he shot from the floor as he was 11-of-19 from the field and 3-of-5 from three. The Magic took down the red-hot Suns with an Evan Fournier layup with six seconds left in the game to win the ball game 112-111. This was in spite of Phoenix’s big three of Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton combining for 69 points on the night.

Then, of course, there’s his Chicago Bulls debut. Opening up with a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, Vucevic continued to show why he is an All-Star caliber center. Despite falling to the Spurs 120-104, Vucevic had 21 points and nine rebounds while shooting an efficient 9-of-16 from the floor with two threes.

For those who have not watched the Orlando Magic much this season, Vucevic made the All-Star game this season by averaging 24.5 points (17th in the league), 11.8 rebounds (5th in the league), and is top-15 in Player Efficiency Rating. Yesterday was of course his first live-action with the Bulls so there is more than enough time for this team to develop chemistry as they look to pursue the playoffs.

Mark my words, the two-man game of Vucevic and Zach LaVine is going to be a sight to see and Vucey-man has the potential to be a really solid second option for a Bulls team that is looking to make the postseason for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Norman Powell

Now, in comparison to Orlando trading their franchise cornerstone big man in Nikola Vucevic, Toronto moving Norman Powell was not nearly as surprising. The real surprise for the Raptors was who they did not trade. Despite teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers all making offers, they did not trade All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry who will become a free agent this offseason.

Nonetheless, Powell was a consistent contributor and high-volume scorer for Toronto in the backcourt alongside Lowry and Fred VanVleet. He has kind of been like the Malik Beasley of the Eastern Conference. Always going to get his buckets night in and night out as a guy who can create his own shot and make tough shots.

But now he is in the Western Conference as a member of the Portland Trailblazers with an even more talented backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Powell was moved to Portland in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood as the Blazers looked to add more offensive firepower to a team with a “win now” attitude.

This week he only played two games, one as Raptor and one as a Blazer but that did not change the results as he went 2-0 on the week. The first matchup was against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday when Toronto ended their nine-game losing streak by destroying the Nuggets 135-111. Powell scored 22 points to go along with two rebounds and three assists while shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from three. This was alongside forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby who combined for 50 points and 14 rebounds with eight combined three-pointers.

Then after rectifying things with Toronto, helping turn around their misfortunes with a big win against a legitimate Western Conference contender, off he went to Portland on Friday. Funny enough, it was against the aforementioned Vucevic-less Orlando Magic under the Friday Night Lights.

He again put up a solid 22 points along with two rebounds. an assist, a steal, and two blocks to lift Portland to a 112-105 victory. This was in a game without Damian Lillard who was out due to injury which means this team will only become even more offensively potent when he returns.

Powell is having a career year averaging 19.6 points, three rebounds (2nd best of his career), and 1.1 steals (second-best of his career). He has been doing this on career-high shooting splits of 49.8% from the floor, 43.9% shooting from three, and 86.5% from the free-throw line in the 41 games with Toronto.

As part of a Portland team that is only three games out of second in the West with a record of 27-18, Powell can once again be a serviceable scoring option on a legitimate NBA title contender. Watch out for the Portland Trail Blazers with their three-headed offensive attack with Lillard, McCollum, and Powell along with great bench production from guys like Enes Kanter and future Hall of Fame forward Carmelo Anthony. This team is going to be really tough out in the postseason.

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1 year ago

Portland potion #24.
Nopo gonna make a big difference and they atleast going to conf finals.

Go beavs…. Gary Payton and ac green are actually planning to play against Houston they are renrolling and with lax covid rules they are eligible as super seniors. Cougs goin down. Ok NCAA tournament blurb done.