We’re going to handle preseason player profiles differently this year on RaptorBlog. For each player on the 2012-13 Raptors’ active roster, Joseph Casciaro and I are going to email our thoughts back and forth and then post the resulting conversation on the blog. It’s an edgy new form of journalism! Or something…
Kyle Lowry, PG, 6’0″, 205 lbs.
2011-12 stats: 47 games, 32.1 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.6 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.6 SPG, .409 FG%, .374 3P%, .864 FT%, 18.9 PER
Scott: I know that Bryan Colangelo’s track record as General Manager of the Raptors has been checkered, at best, but I feel that his acquisition of Kyle Lowry in July has the potential to be his best move since he took the job six years ago. I love his all-around game at the position, particularly his defense and the fact that he grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game last season even though he’s only six feet tall. Lowry is joining the Raptors coming off his best season in the NBA, as he’s entering his prime years at the age of 26. It almost seems too good to be true.
Actually, it might be too good to be true because his health record in the NBA hasn’t exactly been robust — he missed 14 games in 2009-10, seven games in 2010-11 and 19 games last season. This actually makes the case for keeping Jose Calderon around as a solid backup because it seems inevitable that Lowry is going to miss some games every season because of his hard-charging playing style. That same playing style will almost inevitably make him a fan favorite in Toronto. I predict that Kyle Lowry jersey sightings are going to rise sharply shortly after the season begins.
Joseph: I’m pretty sure new jerseys are now available, and fully expect Lowry and Valanciunas merchandise to fly. I still think hiring Dwane Casey will go down as Colangelo’s best move, but nabbing Lowry at the price BC got was outstanding. As I’ve been saying all summer, if the Raptors end up giving up a top-five pick in the deal, I can understand how it will become tough to swallow for fans. But other than that, you’re not necessarily going to get a player of Lowry’s caliber and work ethic in the lottery, and if the deal ends up as Forbes plus a later lottery pick for Lowry, it’s a goddamn steal in my eyes.
What excites me the most about Lowry, as you mentioned is that at 26, he’s just entering the usual prime of a point guard’s career, and he was already good enough to be justifiably handed the “point guard of the future” mantle for this franchise. He attacks the basket with ferocity, seems to know when to take it all the way and when to dish it off, draws fouls, sets teammates up, and is easily one of the best defenders and rebounders at his position right now.
He’s in the conversation of top-10 point guards in a golden era of point guards, which says something. The only thing holding him back from being a truly elite player is that he’s undersized, but by the sounds of it, his intense work ethic and drive make up for it.
Staying healthy is a concern, though much of his missed time last season was due to an infection, not a major injury. If Lowry can provide his full value for even 70 games per season, I think the Raptors will be fine.
Scott: Lowry’s contract is another thing to love about him — he’s only getting paid $12 million over the next two seasons. Outside of players on their rookie contracts, it doesn’t get much better than that in terms of value in the NBA. He’ll probably be looking for “Calderon money” on his next deal, at the very least.
I’m trying to find something to nitpick about Kyle Lowry and… I’ve got nothing. I loved this acquisition. He reportedly has a history of getting in his teammates’ faces at times, so I’ll be very interested to see how guys like DeRozan and Bargnani respond to that. I think the concept and importance of leadership is blown at of proportion at times, but it seems pretty likely that Lowry will quickly emerge as the so-called “leader” of this team.
Joseph: Whether he ends up having the best season on the team or not (I suspect he or Bargnani will), without a doubt, he’ll be the leader of this Raptors squad. As I mentioned last night on twitter, I don’t think the Raptors have had a true alpha personality since Charles Oakley (Carter and Bosh were alphas in skill only, not by personality) a decade ago. And I don’t think the team has ever had that true leader of the pack personality in arguably its best player, so I think Raptors fans are in for a treat this season assuming Lowry stays healthy.
My favourite Raptors quote in a long time came from Lowry at Media Day on Monday, when he was discussing that he’s not the kind of guy who wants to just talk the talk. In his own words, “I’d rather walk it, then talk it, then walk it some more.”
Ummm, more Kyle Lowry, please.
In all seriousness though, I am a firm believer in the theory that the way Lowry plays the game is contagious, especially with a young team. When guys like Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan see Lowry aggressivey pressuring the opposing point guard the entire length of the floor, it’s going to rub off, and the Raptors will be better for it.
I’m with you on trying to find some negatives to discuss in addition to our salivating over him, but other than him missing some games and being undersized, I just can’t find any. If people want to read a more negative player profile, send them to our Kleiza preview.
Scott: Speaking of “rubbing off”, that’s essentially what we’ve been doing in this Lowry discussion. It’s actually starting to make me uncomfortable. Let’s move on.