When you are a point guard and your name is not Stephen Curry, it is hard to grasp the spotlight from the media. Once the media passes by Stephen Curry, the attention is going to familiar faces like Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, and even Derrick Rose.
But what about Kyle Lowry?
Lowry has quietly been playing the best basketball of his 10-year career and some would consider him the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. He isn’t the flashiest player, but he is a player that knows how to get the job done.
Against the aforementioned Curry, a few days ago Lowry had 41 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and 8 trips to the free throw line.
This season, Lowry’s three point shooting (42.0%) is a career high. His PER (26.0) is a career high and is the third best PER of point guards, trailing Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
After Lowry had a disappointing performance in the playoffs last season, he took a new approach. Lowry entered the season with a noticeably slimmer physique, shedding about 15-20 pounds and is quicker and more explosive than ever in his 10-year career.
There was always a concern that a post-Vince Carter, post-Chris Bosh Raptors team would never have a true dominant star to carry the team. Lowry has definitely stepped up this season to ease all worries. He has scored double-digits in every game and is averaging 6.2 assists and a career high of 22.2 points per game. Along with his improved offense, Kyle Lowry leads the league in steals with 53 and is the top point guard in the league in Defensive Real Plus Minus. He is a very important asset to the success of the Raptors this season.
In the category of Win Shares (an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player), Lowry ranked fourth behind franchise superstars Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook.
“The thing about Kyle is he’s so quick and he’s so strong,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “People forget about that and he goes in there and drives into the bodies of the big guys and initiates contact. He’s almost like a little mouse, he gets in there and finds a hole and just gets through there. He does a great job with that and he knows when to do it, how to do it and exactly where the defense is coming from.”
Lowry is that continual underrated guard whom we know is good but was never given his proper due. Many thought they saw the best of Lowry after back to back 18-point and 7-assist years, but the weight loss and tremendous shape he entered this season has been a game changer.
Lowry’s style of play has changed significantly this season adding to the strengths of his new physique. He is driving to the basket more often and is not settling for mid-range jumpers. His increased effort to get to the rim is helping him get to the free throw line more often than last season, from 4.5 FTA to 6.3 FTA per game. Lowry is also attempting more three-point shots, but has been much more efficient this season (42.0%) compared to last season (31.3%).
So why is he not getting significant attention? Well, not many players find another gear after being in the league for 10 years like Kyle Lowry has. It also may be the reason Lowry is being written off and not getting the attention he deserves. Many don’t believe he will sustain this type of play for a long period of time. Lowry must step up and follow his regular season successes with success in the playoffs for fans to start noticing. Lowry continues to be associated with mediocrity because of his isolated regular season successes.
Kyle Lowry’s long career in the NBA (he was drafted out of Villanova in 2006), earned him a reputation of being a headache for coaches after years of subpar performances. It’s hard to forget about the past. It’s easy to associate the past with the present.
But if this year Lowry can prove he is worth more than a first-round exit, his image will transform, and his name will be entered into another conversation. The conversation of being elite.
photo via llananba