When Jose Calderon was dealt midseason to the Detroit Pistons, Kyle Lowry was given the opportunity to take over as point guard for the Raptors. He had a decent season, especially defensively, but seemed to fall short of the expectations set for him.
Lowry averaged 4.7 rebounds per game for 2012-13, a career high for the 27-year-old point guard, but his other statistics weren’t as impressive. He averaged 11.6 points, 6.4 assists and 1.4 steals per 29.7 minutes.
These statistics paled in comparison to Lowry’s numbers in November. He started the first few months of the season averaging 15.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, yet these numbers dropped as the season progressed and Lowry felt the wear-and-tear of the court.
In particular, Lowry missed games in December due to a partial triceps tear. Fortunately, the point guard was only sidelined for about 10 days, but nevertheless his statistics did not bounce back to the impressive heights they reached in November.
When Rudy Gay joined the Toronto squad at the beginning of February, he certainly picked up the slack in scoring. However, more needs to be seen of Lowry in terms of scoring and driving to the basket next season if he wants to prove himself at the point.
Despite the Raptors’ positive end to the season, Lowry didn’t make the impact that DeMar DeRozan or Rudy Gay did during the five-game winning streak that concluded 2012-13. Specifically, he scored only seven points in 37 minutes against Brooklyn on Sunday April 14, finishing with a field-goal percentage of .200.
However, his assists and rebounding remained relatively solid at season’s end. Lowry grabbed nine rebounds against Chicago on April 12 and nine more against Brooklyn on April 14. Moreover, he totaled double figures in assists in three out of the five final games of Toronto’s season.
Lowry can rebound, and he can put the ball in the hands of the open man. He appears to have a strong relationship with Rudy Gay on and off the court, yet Lowry cannot rely on Gay to lead the team in scoring every night. He needs to strengthen his shot and become more than just a good defensive player.
Lowry has received a mix of praise and criticism from Raptors fans, experts and writers alike. Raptors Republic recently came out with a “100 Words” piece on Kyle Lowry that gives voice to the various opinions of the Raptors point guard.
For instance, Eric Koreen of The National Post said of the point guard, “There is no doubt he can play. All he has to do is accept coaching and lead, and he will be wealthy."
Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic was more critical, saying “Kyle Lowry struggled to be both a creator and a facilitator at the same time this year, although a large part of that may have been due first to his changing roles and then to his changing teammates.”
The chatter that surrounds Kyle Lowry points to the fact that Toronto has yet to fully approve of its point guard. Though Lowry may have glimmers of excellent defensive play and versatility, he has yet to show his talents as a leader. A point guard needs not only to shoot, rebound and assist, he needs to lead his team to victory, facilitate the offense and create plays.
As of now, Kyle Lowry is not a point guard who leads. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2014, so he does have some time to develop at the point and prove himself worthy of the position. Until then, Lowry will fail to be universally accepted as the best fit for Toronto at point guard.