The two had bonded in Kalamian’s six seasons as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The two have stayed in touch in the year since Kalamian made the move to Toronto, and since Durant made his bold move to the Golden State Warriors this summer. The content of Durant’s text did surprise the coach that day, though. “Your two guys are the best. I’m jealous of their relationship, the way they get along with each other and the way they play together. The way they enjoy each other, it’s great,” Kalamian said of that text on Monday, as the Raptors finished up their practice. Durant, all the way from the Olympics in Rio, was in awe of the friendship that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had on display with the U.S. men’s basketball team. “I think it’s kind of what he wants,” Kalamian continued. “He wants that bond with someone . . . and I think he’s going to find that. “Early on in OKC, we had that.”
Storyline: Durant-Westbrook Relationship
He didn’t. Powell’s monster jam tied the score, and the Raptors went on to win the game and the series, their first in 15 long years. The clutch play was Powell’s first signature moment in the NBA, the kind of big-stage performance that can signal a star turn for a young player. Factor in the stellar Summer League showing that followed it and the noticeable improvements he’s displayed in the pre-season, and you can understand why Powell has already been anointed by many as the Raptors next breakout star. And he just may be. But Norman Powell isn’t buying it. Not yet, at least. “People think ‘Oh, you did it in the playoffs, you got minutes, you’ve made it,’” Powell says on the eve of a Raptors’ pre-season game in Detroit. “I made a couple of shots. I made a couple of plays. That’s great, sure, but I worked for that. I’m not where I want to be… I’m nowhere close.”
An example of how Powell is different from most promising young players: he declined an elaborate photo shoot for this story, conscious it could make him come off as somebody who thinks he’s already “made it.” “Because I haven’t,” he says. “All the talk and hype about being a breakout player—yeah, I know I can be. But right now I’m just focused on doing whatever the team needs and continuing to develop into the player I see myself being. It’ll take a process to get there, and it’s important for me not to miss a step along the way—not to get ahead of myself. You’ll know when I’ve made it.”
CJ McCollum on DeMar DeRozan: The midrange monster. One thing you’ll notice about DeMar is that he’s got a slight lean when he shoots his jumper. When you grow up in a place like Compton, you play a lot of “33” and “21,” where it’s one-on-one-on-everybody-at-the-park. At least that’s what I played growing up in Canton, Ohio. So you have to develop ways to get your shot off over double and triple teams.