The NBA trade deadline approaches. On February 20th at 5pm, teams around the NBA will try trade to improve or trade to continue the tank effort. One team in particular has been thrusted in to the spotlight with one player in particular being shopped around (according to multiple reports). Of course I'm talking about the Toronto Raptors and Kyle Lowry. Ever since Rudy Gay was traded to Sacramento in December, Lowry was immediately put on the trading block.
But something happened... The Raptors, who were 6-12 at the time, did something that no one saw coming: they started winning games. It was as if a light switch went off and Lowry, DeRozan and the our boys in red, white and black all of a sudden "got it". Their defense clicked, their offence was on point and they were beating teams that people said they had no chance of beating (OKC, Dallas twice, Indiana, New York twice and Brooklyn twice)! The Raptors are now 26-22, 1st in the Atlantic Division and 4th in the East.
All this was done with Lowry being the driving force of the team. In the past 2 months post Gay-trade, Lowry has put on an All Star effort (he was snubbed in favour of Kyrie Irving and Joe Johnson). All his stats are at career highs. He leads the league in charges taken. DeRozan may be our All Star (well deserved, mind you), but Lowry is the heart and soul of the team. Period.
So why is his name constantly being thrown around in trade rumours, despite Toronto's turnaround? Some would argue that all Lowry is doing is playing well in a contract year and his strong play is just fool's gold. Maybe, however consider the other circumstances that come into play:
- Lowry is healthy and in shape. Last season, Lowry came into training camp hurt and out of shape, which played a part in his sub-par production last year. This year, he came into camp with no lingering injuries to deal with and in the best shape of his career. We've seen the positive results so far.
- No Calderon. I am a HUGE Jose Calderon fan, but he has cost the likes of T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack and Jarryd Bayless their jobs, so the fact that Lowry doesn't have to look over his shoulder allows for him to play comfortably with the freedom to make mistakes and not get punished for it.
- No Gay. When Rudy Gay was on the Raptors, we played him like Miami plays LeBron James. Gay would dominate the ball handling duties and would make poor passing decisions. Since he's been traded, Lowry has become the primary ball handler (along with Vasquez) and is free to make the best available basketball decision available (watch the Nets highlights from a few weeks ago).
Say what you will about Kyle Lowry. But there is no denying that he is the driving force behind the Raptors right now. Masai Ujiri is not a fool and wouldn't trade him unless there was an offer he simply couldn't refuse.
Final verdict: February will come and go, and Kyle Lowry will still be a member of the Toronto Raptors. End of story!
Now we can kill that stupid red elephant in the room!