I won’t name names, but a member of the Crossing Broad staff wrote this last night in our Slack channel:
“Kyle, enough with the Lowry thing. He is their third option.”
Kyle, of course, is a Villanova alumnus, and continually shares this kind of stuff on social media while trolling us privately as well:
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) June 6, 2019
Yes, shockingly, Kyle is biased towards Villanova. This should come as a surprise to nobody at all.
But the North Philly native was really good last night. He put up 23 points on 50% shooting while hitting 5-9 from deep and adding 9 assists and 4 rebounds. Of course Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were not on the floor, so you can throw a big fat asterisk on everything related to game three, and if you want to pour more cold water on it, you could point out that Lowry was following up a game two performance in which he shot 4-11 before fouling out. That followed a game one in which he had 7 points on 2-9 shooting.
Personally, I believe the following to be true:
- Yes, Kyle Lowry is Toronto’s third (or fourth) option on any given night.
- Yes, he’s had some postseason clunkers (two foul outs and a 0 point game).
- Yes, he embellishes and does annoying little veteran things to try to earn fouls (he tries to do James Harden stuff but only gets 50% of the calls).
But I’d also say this, after the jump:
- Lowry doesn’t need to be a 1st or 2nd option. He understands his role and plays it very well.
- He’s had a handful of superb playoff performances (games 4 and 6 vs. Milwaukee come to mind).
- Every charge he draws, every foul he earns – those are savvy plays that not everybody can pull off. They change momentum and the flow of a game.
- Each contribution made by a Toronto “role player” eases the burden on Kawhi Leonard and makes them harder to defend.
Lowry really was excellent against the Bucks, averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the series win. The Sixers, for comparison, held him to 13/5/6, limiting his contributions as they strategically deferred to Kawhi Leonard, willing to die on that sword, which they ultimately did. Watching the Milwaukee and Golden State series, I think I have a new appreciation for the Sixers’ defense and the size they were able to use against Toronto, which kept them below 100 points on three different occasions (games 2, 3, and 7). The Bucks were able to do it only once, when they held Toronto under triple digits during regulation of the double overtime game. Orlando managed it once in their first round playoff series while Golden State has given up point totals of 123, 104, and 118.
Keep in mind, Lowry is 33 years old with 83 playoff games under his belt. He’s not supposed to be a major contributor at this point in his career, not when you’ve got 27 year old Leonard and 25 year old Pascal Siakam leading the charge. You shift your game to the periphery, learning how to draw fouls, take charges, pester opponents, dive on loose balls – a lot of small things that don’t go on the score sheet, but require digging to quantify. To that end, Lowry does that stuff as well as anybody in the league.
Yeah, his numbers are down this year, but when your third or fourth option is giving you 15/5/6 through 21 playoff games, and you’re two wins away from a ring, I think we certainly have to give credit where it’s due. Lowry is 10th this postseason in assists per game with a 2.89 assist to turnover ratio. He’s shooting just under 37% from three with a 102.7 defensive rating and 8.3 net rating. He is 10th in fouls drawn per game, 2nd in charges drawn, and 3rd in loose balls recovered, snaring 42 total in 21 playoff games.
You have to pay attention to that stuff. If this were a Philly player (i.e. Robert Covington), we’d be bending over backwards to point out all of the small things they do but don’t get enough credit for.
At the end of the day, I think this is the conclusion I’ve come to:
Kyle Lowry is not as good as Kyle Scott thinks he is, but he’s one of those scrappy, pain in the ass veterans you’d love to have on your team.
Kyle Lowry got it SO bad on the latest "Mean Tweets: NBA Edition" on Jimmy Kimmel Live: pic.twitter.com/LrCXvz3o4o
— Chris Walder (@WalderSports) May 31, 2019