The beginning of the year looked promising for Kyle Lowry. The departure of his best friend DeMar DeRozan had people wondering how his morale would be coming into the year, but those questions quickly subsided.
The Kyle Lowry we saw in October looked like everything you wanted in your starting point guard and more. He, alongside Toronto’s new prize Kawhi Leonard, led the Raptors to a 7-1 record out of the gate where Lowry played some of the best basketball we’ve seen from him.
He appeared to age like a fine wine, averaging 18.5 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, and a steal and a half per game with amazing shooting splits of 51.5/42/75 in the league’s first month. The only thing that could have used a bump was that 76% free-throw percentage.
Well, the only thing that got a bump was that 76% free-throw percentage.
Worst Clutch FG% (Min 35 attempts)
1. Kyle Lowry 22.9%
2. Russell Westbrook 28.0%
3. Jrue Holiday 28.6%
4. Jamal Murray 31.9%
5. Harrison Barnes 33.3%
6. Donovan Mitchell 35.1%
7. Damian Lillard 35.5%
— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) January 24, 2019
As the year has gone on, his numbers have consistently declined each month. In four months, Lowry has transformed from All-NBA caliber performances to eighth-man performances. Let’s look at a monthly breakdown:
October: 18.5 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.5 steals on 51.5/42/76 shooting
November: 13.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals on 42/32/87.5 shooting
December: 11.3 points, 8.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals on 36/22/93 shooting*
January: 13.3 points, 7.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals on 35/30/85 shooting
*only seven games played due to injury
The decline began in November, mostly seen in the 10% decrease in FG% and 3P%, but his averages didn’t tank to a significant point of concern. However, the back injury he dealt with (and likely still is dealing with) in early December clearly took a tole on him.
Things hit an all-time low on December 9, where the Raptors took on the Bucks at home. A game that could prove costly while the teams are busy duking it out for the top spot in the East. In 34 minutes, Lowry scored zero points on just five attempts, contributing just seven dimes and five boards on the night.
The Raptors lost by five.
That sums up Lowry’s whole year. Underwhelming performances getting no publicity simply because Kawhi Leonard is back to form and Pascal Siakam became a player no-one could have predicted.
In fact, Lowry’s regression has gotten so little publicity that he was named to this year’s All-Star game. In a year where All-Star snubs are getting so much attention, with Rudy Gobert’s emotional reaction to missing the game and rookie phenom Luka Doncic missing the call, the biggest crime is Lowry making the team over D’Angelo Russell, Eric Bledsoe, and Jimmy Butler.
But that’s a story for another day.
All Star Kyle Lowry in full force tonight:
1/6 from three
Strong outing in one of the biggest games of the season for them💪
— NBA Buckets (@NBA_Buckets) February 1, 2019
Fun facts about Lowry’s season:
– Starting in the third game of the season, Lowry began a streak of nine 10+ assist games. Since then, Lowry has had nine 10+ assist games.
– In October, Lowry scored over 20 points four times. Since November, he has scored over 20 points seven times.
– Kyle Lowry has scored under 10 points on 10 different occasions this season. The Raptors are 4-6 in those games. The Raptors only have 16 losses.
– In 50 minutes against the Wizards on January 13, Lowry contributed 12 points and 11 assists on 4-15 shooting, 2-6 from deep.
The combination of injury and age is clearly catching up to the veteran guard, and with $31 million on the books for this year and $33 million next year, the Raptors’ must be concerned for the immediate future.
The Raptors look strong now, but if Kyle Lowry continues to perform this way come playoff time, their title hopes are in serious danger.