The city of Toronto fell in love with Kyle Lowry during the 2013-14 season, and apparently the feeling was mutual as the "bulldog" point guard signed a four-year contract to remain with the Raptors in the offseason.
Teamed with DeMar DeRozan, many pegged the duo as the second-best backcourt in the NBA, behind only Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.
With DeRozan lost to injury in November, Lowry was given an opportunity to carry the load for the Raptors, and did he ever answer the bell. Prior to the all-star break, he was averaging better than 18 points and seven assists per game, which prompted a vigorous campaign to vote the 29-year-old into the Eastern Conference’s starting lineup in New York. Lowry did indeed make the team, and became the third all-star starter in franchise history.
In the second half, the former first-round pick was slowed by a nagging back issue and saw his numbers dip across the board. Lowry was never able to find consistency after his time off, turning in an abysmal playoff series against the Washington Wizards where he struggled to simply stay on the court due to foul trouble.
70 games (all started), 34.5 minutes, 17.8 points, 41.2 FG%, 33.8 3P%, 80.8 FT%, 4.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 2.5 turnovers.
Dec. 28 vs. Denver Nuggets:
With the Raptors coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, this clash in Denver had the makings of a trap game. The Nuggets were not playing well, but a game at altitude on the second night of a back-to-back is never easy. Lowry put the team on his shoulders, tallying 30 points on 60 per cent shooting, dishing out 11 dimes and corralling seven rebounds. Talk about a complete performance.
Honourable mention: Dec. 3 vs. Utah Jazz
Lowry scored a season-high 39 points, knocking down four of his five three-point attempts and all nine free throws. He also handed out four assists and grabbed five boards.
February 2 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
This was an ugly game for all involved. Down to only eight men after O.J. Mayo was ejected in the first half, the Bucks had no business walking out of the Air Canada Centre with a win. The Raptors shot 32 per cent from the field en route to arguably their most disappointing loss of the regular season. It all started with Lowry, who registered only two points, and failed to attempt a free throw. To compound matters, he coughed up the ball four times, finishing a team-worst -12 on the night.
Honourable mention: Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs
We don’t need to go there…
Strengths & Weaknesses:
+ Able to score for himself or put the ball on the floor to make plays for teammates
+ One of the league’s best at taking charges
- Lacks the quickness needed to guard top-tier point guards on the perimeter
- Conditioning will always be a point of concern due to his early-career reputation
Role Next Season:
Lowry is being paid to lead the Raptors from the point guard position, and that is exactly what his role will be in 2015-16 (and beyond). With the current roster makeup, Lowry will obviously see the vast majority of his minutes at the one spot, but as long as Greivis Vasquez has a place in the rotation, hate it or love it, there will always be the possibility of the dual point guard lineup.
With the type of deal Lowry signed last summer, it is hard to imagine Masai Ujiri bringing in someone to compete for the starting job. This is the Raptors’ present and future floor general.
A Gif to Sum it All Up
Yup, it was that kind of season... for the most part.