Kyle Lowry is going to the All-Star game... again.
This will be Lowry’s fifth-straight All-Star appearance, matching Vince Carter and Chris Bosh for the most times attending the league’s annual talent showcase / corporate sponsor hoe-down in Raptors history. He’ll join Kawhi Leonard in Charlotte, who was named a starter last week. He joins Nikola Vucevic, Blake Griffin, Bradley Beal, Khris Middleton, Ben Simmons and Victor Oladipo on the East’s bench.
Lowry’s had, frankly, a wonky ass season. You may remember the month or so to start the year when there was real question about who was better: 2018-19 Lowry, or MVP-years Steve Nash. Of course, since that torrid start Lowry’s battled thigh and back problems, missed 11 of the team’s 52 games, and had a very public battle with his shot. Still, the numbers are pretty tight: 14.2 points, 9.4 assists (second in the NBA), 4.5 boards, 1.4 steals, and the usual standing near the top of most all-encompassing advanced stat boards. He’s 10th in ESPN’s RPM metric, for example.
There have also been enumerable games swung by that thing Lowry has ... let’s call it The Quality — that Lowry-exclusive always-felt presence whenever he’s on the court, even when his shot is wayward.
That bricky jumper seemed to perhaps pose a challenge to his candidacy. Typically a near-40 percent three-point shooter, Lowry’s hung around 32 percent for much of the last couple months, and had some notable blips of passivity within the flow of the Raptors’ offense.
Ultimately, though, it seems Lowry’s selection wasn’t really a question for the coaches tasked with selecting the reserves.
“(The coaches) were pretty much across the board like, ‘You guys are good and we know he’s your leader, and he’s almost leading the league in assists. Maybe his scoring numbers are down but who cares? He plays his butt off and we know it’,” said Nick Nurse before the game when asked if he had to do any extra lobbying for Lowry over the past week.
Some may bristle at the absence of Pascal Siakam or even Serge Ibaka from the All-Star reserve list. That’s fair, especially when it comes to Siakam, who’s been the one constant for the Raptors as Lowry and Leonard have swapped in and out of the lineup with various ailments and rest days. It’s useful to keep in mind, though, that without Lowry’s pinpoint passing and general control of the floor when on it, neither of those guys cases look nearly as solid.
Now, we wait to to see if Siakam gets the nod as Victor Oladipo’s injury replacement, and if Lowry and Kawhi nudge themselves onto Team Giannis to start the 2021 recruiting process.