In a point guard-driven league, the Toronto Raptors knew they had to upgrade at that 1 if they hoped of making the playoffs in the 2012-13 season.
With Steve Nash on his way to Los Angeles, the Raptors turned to Plan B and traded for Kyle Lowry, formerly of the Houston Rockets. The trade should make Toronto a better team and have them challenging for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Lowry has improved every season since his rookie year with the Memphis Grizzlies. Last season, Lowry averaged 14.3 points per game, 6.6 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game despite having to come off the bench for nine games after returning from injury.
As a starter, Lowry averaged 15.9 points per game and 7.2 assists per game. Combined with Houston’s superior record and his great defense and rebounding, it’s clear that Lowry is a much better point guard than Jose Calderon.
Kyle Lowry will almost certainly help the Raptors to a better record this season, as point guards will no longer have huge games against Toronto. While Calderon is a good shooter and facilitator, he is poor defender—which hurt the Raptors a lot last season.
Lowry is one of the hardest workers in the league and is a relentless defender. His work ethic will immediately make him a favorite of coach Dwane Casey, and he could see the most minutes of any Raptor as a result.
Another one of Lowry’s strengths is his rebounding. As a starter last year, he averaged 5.3 rebounds per game, a very high number for a point guard.
While Andrea Bargnani is a talented scorer, he's an awful rebounder and has hurt the Raptors in the past because of it. However, with Lowry and rookie Jonas Valanciunas in the starting lineup, Toronto no longer has to worry about sitting Bargnani because of his rebounding deficiencies.
Clearly, Calderon is a talented point guard, but Toronto management may find that they shouldn’t be paying a player over $10 million to sit on the bench.
Any team whose starting point guard gets injured may try and pursue Calderon before the trade deadline. The Raptors could get back a quality, young player and/or draft picks for Calderon. They could have John Lucas come in as the backup since he did well last year in Chicago.
When looking back a few years from now at the 2012 offseason, there’s a good chance Kyle Lowry will be considered the best point guard who switched teams. Nash is past his prime and is a poor defender, and Jeremy Lin won’t continue his excellent run of last year.
Kyle Lowry could become an All-Star this year, and at the very least, he should be Toronto’s best player. Bryan Colangelo did a fine job in trading for such a talented player in exchange for just a future first-round pick.