It was interesting to see the Toronto Raptors finally get their man in Kyle Lowry a few days ago as he and Houston's other former point guard, Goran Dragic, were two players we've been talking about on the site for a while. Back in APRIL in fact we first threw around the idea of either player joining the Dinos and even talked to Tom Martin of SB Nation's Houston Rockets blog, the Dream Shake, for his take.
With Lowry now fully in tow I thought we'd touch in with Tom again and get his take on the newest member of the Raptors; his fit, strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between are discussed after the jump.
It's tough to see Lowry leave on a sour note. He made himself in Houston -- he went from that guy who wouldn't stay away from the free throw line in limited minutes; to a capable backup who gave Aaron Brooks a run for his money; to a guy who the Rockets could no longer keep from starting; to the team leader and a league MVP candidate for a while. He's Morey's prize discovery, someone who was undervalued by many others but someone Morey desperately wanted for a long time, dating back to his days at Villanova. The fact that Morey was willing to part with Lowry for a draft pick lets you know how desperate he is for a star player, which Lowry is not. But he certainly is worth more than he is paid, that's for sure.
Strengths: Tough as nails on both ends. Intense competitor -- he's got that Philly drive in his blood, don't underestimate it. Great defender, one of the most underrated in the league. Just makes guys work much harder than they usually have to. Deep three-point range -- you'll see him pull up and drain one from absurd lengths sometimes, we've grown used to it... (pretty sure he lead the league in the past two years in non-fourth quarter half-court buzzer beaters, or something like that). Makes good use of the pick-and-roll when he keeps the ball -- likes to pull up from three in those instances and he shoots a good percentage when doing so. Wonderful rebounder -- yes, wonderful is the term I am going to stick with. Great balance and strength when driving to the basket, he's usually able to draw a foul if he doesn't put up a makeable shot. Top-tier free-throw shooter, or close to it. Really effective off-ball, uses cuts, screens and handoff plays to his advantage. He's shifty despite his weight. Real good passer in transition. He just makes plays, and while he can't do so "at will" like guys we've seen in the past (T-Mac, Kobe, etc.), rarely do you see him zone out and disappear -- he's always involved somehow.
Weaknesses: Like I said, he's not athletic enough to separate himself from guys and create in traffic. He's able to keep plays alive but he can't always finish them. Can get trigger-happy at times and gets really streaky -- you might see him shoot 25% one week and 50% the next. Isn't a great finisher in transition, but I think he'll work well in setting up guys like Ross, DeRozan and Bargs for spot-up transition threes -- that was his favorite decision to make when Kevin Martin ran with him. Isn't particularly good in isolation. Has gotten more turnover-prone with increased responsibility, though I think Casey's system might reduce that.
I wouldn't worry about the comments he made about McHale -- he's got a good attitude and he's walking into a situation that I think he'll embrace. He's a great point guard, period, and it sucks that Goran Dragic got between him and Houston. We would have loved to keep him, trust me. If you want some more reasons why, search "Kyle Lowry Over Everything" (#KLOE on Twitter, once the season picks up). It's great.