With meaningful games fading fast in early March, there isn’t a lot of noteworthy Raptors news floating around out there, but Ric Bucher provided this under the radar gem for us on Tuesday morning:
Give Chauncey Billups an assist if Kyle Lowry makes good on his opportunity in Toronto after getting sideways early sulia.com/my_thoughts/4d…
— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) March 5, 2013
The writeup on Sulia makes reference to Lowry getting “sideways” with Dwane Casey earlier this season and to the rumours that emerged regarding the Raptors possibly considering trading their younger point guard rather than moving Jose Calderon. Bucher goes on to write “Apparently when the Clippers played Toronto, Billups had dinner with Lowry and impressed upon him that the Raptors must have a lot of faith in him to move Calderon. Billups also suggested he take full advantage of that trust and not screw up the relationship a second time.”
Most of the reports about the organization being split between Lowry and Calderon stated that the management side was on Team Lowry, so I still have a tough time believing Bryan Colangelo and co. were ever really prepared to deal Kyle so soon after trading a lottery pick for him in a season that was looking like it might yield a pretty high lottery pick at that. But having said that, Billups probably figured out what the rest of us talked about with regards to Lowry, and that’s that his reputation as a point guard of the future in the NBA would have been ruined had he fallen out with another coach/team.
For what it’s worth, Lowry is averaging 10.8 points, 6.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 32.5 minutes per game over the 15-game stretch since the Rudy Gay trade that involved Calderon. The Raptors are 7-8 during that stretch, with Kyle continuing to light it up from the outside (41% from three-point range) while seriously struggling with his shot from everywhere else (38.9% from the field). On Monday, Lowry finished one assist shy of his second straight triple-double.
Despite the solid, balanced numbers however, there still exists a belief among the Raptors’ fan base that Lowry should be more aggressive with his own offence, as the 26-year-old point guard has shown in the past that he can fill the basket without his assists or rebounds slipping. Look no further than the first three games of this season, when Lowry averaged 23.7 points, 7.0 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 steals while taking an average of 13.3 shots. But over his last 31 games since returning to the lineup following his second injury layoff of the season, Lowry is only averaging 8.1 field goal attempts per game, and nearly half of those (3.9) come from behind the arc.
All in all, if Billups was able to get through to Lowry to find a way to make it work in Toronto, that’s great, as Kyle will be a free agent after next season without an extension. The way he’s been looking for his teammates is also obviously encouraging, as are the numbers pretty much across the board, but I know I speak for many fans when I say that I still long for the Lowry who can go into full on “takeover” mode on the court with his own offence when need be. Hopefully I also speak for the organization in that regard, because going forward, they’ll need that guy.