Kyle Lowry’s Recent Struggles and What They Mean for the Raptors

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Dec 9, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) moves to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) at Scotiabank Arena. Milwaukee defeated Toronto. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors’ All-Star point guard, started the season averaging more than 14 points and 10 assists per game. While his point totals are down from recent years, (which is to be expected given the arrival of MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard) his per-game assist averages led the league by a mile. Over the last four-game stretch for the Raptors, he’s averaged 3.8 points and a still-respectable but not-excellent 8.5 assists. The Raptors have dropped three of those last four, the worst of those coming against a below .500 opponent in Brooklyn.

Given the immense depth that the Raptors have displayed thus far this season, Lowry’s recent struggles should not have been an issue. However, with backup point guard and last year’s Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Fred VanVleet, also struggling to start the season, the Raptors are seriously lacking depth at the point guard position — the spot at which they were expected to be deepest before the season started. 

Lowry, VanVleet, Delon Wright, and Lorenzo Brown combine to make up Toronto’s depth chart at the point guard position. That’s a list of four guys who are all fully capable of getting solid minutes at the 1 for almost any other NBA team, (with the possible exception of the Celtics and Warriors) but who are struggling to find consistent minutes with the Raptors. 

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Wright (8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game last season) and Lorenzo Brown (18.8 points and 8.8 assists as the G-League MVP for the Raptors905) tend to be the odd man out in head coach Nick Nurse’s rotation, with Wright’s minutes down from 20.8 in 2017-’18 to 16.0 so far this season. Brown is playing his first season on an NBA roster after four years in the G-League or as a two-way player and is averaging just 8.7 minutes per game. 

If Nurse doesn’t plan on utilizing either Wright or Brown in a more major fashion than he has been, then Lowry and VanVleet need to step up their games, because they’ve both been struggling as of late — Lowry just the last few games and VanVleet for more or less the course of the season.

With a tough Western Conference road trip coming up that will see the Raptors playing Western contenders such as the Clippers and Warriors, the Raptors will need Lowry to step up his game, especially in the scoring department.

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