Looking at Lowry: Raptor’s Leader Adjusting to Role on New Roster
Kyle Lowry is no stranger to adversity. Selected 24th overall in the 2006 NBA draft, he was never projected to become one of the Association’s star players. But following an underwhelming start to his career consisting across stints with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, Lowry’s star has shone brightly since being traded to the Raptors in 2013.
The dogged, determined point guard has earned four All-Star appearances during his time in Toronto, and a true “late-bloomer”. Consider the following: over the first seven years of his career, Lowry averaged a pedestrian 10 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game.
Since moving up North, however, the chip on Lowry’s shoulder has only grown larger; as a member of the Raptors, he’s averaged 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. And these numbers unfathomably still undersell his true value to the Raptors’ organization.
Back in 2013, Toronto believed its trade with with Houston would yield a decent rotation piece. The team did not foresee Lowry’s transformation into a fearless team leader, perennial All-Star, and bona fide franchise centerpiece who would guide the club into its current run of unprecedented success.
But now, adversity is knocking on Lowry’s door once again. Although his place within the NBA’s star-player pecking order is all but solidified, the challenges Lowry faces this season have less to do with his statistical performance and more to do with accepting his new role playing without DeMar DeRozan and alongside Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry’s role within Nick Nurse’s re-modeled offense is a stark departure from team expectations in years prior. Lowry has been asked to relinquish some of his scoring responsibilities and instead assume the role of facilitator extraordinaire. This transition is evidenced favorably by his current place atop the NBA’s assist leaderboard, where he is tied for pole position with Russell Westbrook, averaging a career-high 10 assists per game.
However, Lowry has struggled to find his niche within the confines of his new offensive role, demonstrated by his lowest scoring output in five seasons. Much to the chagrin of Raptors fans, this has been highlighted by a particularly rough stretch of games that saw Lowry put up consecutive point totals of five, seven, three and zero.
Nevertheless, based on his track record of shattering expectations and bucking trends, one can reasonably expect Lowry to adapt to his current circumstances by season’s end. He has never been the top scorer on any of his Raptor’s squads – that mantle was always occupied by the since-departed DeRozan – and thus it’s safe to assume he’ll acclimate to the team’s resident superstar Kawhi Leonard.
As Lowry’s unenthusiastic memories of the bromance-crushing DeRozan-Leonard swap fade away, Raptors fans believe that he will once again leverage that chip on his shoulder into performing as optimally as possible for the franchise that once took a chance on him, drastically altering his career arc for the better.