Kyle Lowry is closing in on 10,000 points in a Raptors uniform
|Toronto Star 22 Jan 2021 at 19:14|
Maybe he’s a chameleon. Or a quick-change artist. Or, more likely, just a very smart NBA player who reads his reality, adjusts accordingly and provides his team with whatever is necessary.
However you want to describe Kyle Lowry — and there are many adjectives that can be used — he is one of the brightest players the Raptors have employed because he knows what he has to do and he just does it.
Lowry is poised to become the third player in Raptors history to score 10,000 points in a Toronto uniform, 14 points from joining DeMar DeRozan and Chris Bosh. A toe infection kept him out of Toronto’s game against Miami on Friday, but the milestone could come as early as Sunday, when the Raptors visit Indiana.
“(The toe) was sore and he played through it (Wednesday),” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I expect him to be ready for the next one.”
There may be some surprise that it has taken Lowry this long to get to 10,000 points, since he has already played 568 games with the Raptors. But that’s part of his basketball charm: He has gone from facilitator to primary scorer to facilitator to something in between over his nine-plus seasons here.
Lowry reads what his teammates’ strengths are, he knows what his are, and he plays to them.
“I think when I first got here he was really a set-up man — run the team, get the ball around to guys,” Nurse said. “The team changed a little bit, he had to take on more of a scoring load, did that. A couple years ago, he came out and ... saw the structure of the team (had changed) and was averaging double digit assists for a good portion of the season, and then again the team changes and he goes back to more of a scoring role.
“So I think that’s a sign of just a really good player in general, the veteran guy that understands his role and it kind of shifts throughout his career a little bit.”
VanVleet understands Lowry better than any current Raptor. They comprise one of the more versatile guard tandems in the NBA today and have thrived playing off each other. VanVleet has benefited from Lowry’s guidance, and his ever-changing style. And VanVleet has always been comfortable demanding a bit more of Lowry, insisting he become more consistently aggressive.
“I think I force that type of relationship on him,” VanVleet said. “I remember just being a rookie and shaking his hand before every game and telling him he’s, to me, the best point guard in NBA, and the first couple of times he just kind of looked at me like ‘this kid is crazy.’
“But it’s not so much about the points, it’s just more so being aggressive and getting to the rim … So as long as he’s in attack mode, getting to the rim, drawing fouls, I think that allows the choices of ‘do I shoot, do I pass.’
“Sometimes he can get a little passive but, when he does that, he doesn’t need any help for me to figure that out.”
Lowry has been having a somewhat average season, by his standards. His scoring (18.2 points per game) is about the same, down a bit from last year but above his career average. His field-goal percentage (.429) is about as usual. His three-point percentage (.359) mirrors his last couple of seasons. And his assists (7.1 per game) are only slightly down from the two previous seasons. He just hasn’t popped a really big game in Toronto’s first 14.
“I think he’s playing as usual, playing hard and leading the team,” Nurse said. ”Been maybe a little more streaky than maybe normal, but he’s been good.”