It’s hard to imagine the old preseason moniker “it’s only preseason, but…” applies to Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who’s looked near unstoppable early in preseason with a reshaped body after dropping weight this offseason. The Raptors 2015-16 Media Guide lists Lowry at 196 after previously being listed at 205, and it’s affected his quickness and speed to the point that I didn’t even recognize who Toronto started at point guard in its last preseason game.
That “new” point guard was Lowry, who’s dominated his first two preseason games to the tune of 25.5(!) points, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He’s shot a ridiculous 65.2 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from three while making 88.9 percent of his free throws as well. Not only do the stats jump off the screen, but his quickness and finishing ability both appear improved as well thanks to the reshaping of his body.
It was a smart move by the 29-year-old, who faded after the All-Star break last year. Lowry really impressed before the All-Star break after signing a new four-year contract, averaging 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.6 steals and earning his first All-Star game appearance.
But down the stretch and into the postseason, Lowry and the Raptors faltered. He averaged a mere 12.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.0 turnovers while only shooting 31.6 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from three in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards. The failure prompted a discussion with head coach Dwane Casey on potentially shedding some weight for next year.
Now, Lowry is ready to amend his performance from the end of last season, according to Rachel Brady of The Globe and Mail:
“Sometimes you get older, you’ve got to change your body a little bit,” 29-year-old Lowry said. “And I’m not a young pup no more, but it’s just about the future for me. It’s about being healthy.”
The new slimmed-down figure should help Lowry stay healthier longer into the season, allowing him to perform when it really counts in the postseason. The Raptors are hoping so as they try to finally break through in the Eastern Conference after losing in the first round in back-to-back years.
Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson was equally surprised at Lowry’s new look:
“I saw him in the locker room and I was like ‘I’ve never seen this before. You’ve always been this short, chunky, bulldog fat kid that I’ve known since my first year in the NBA. To see you like this, it’s like the evil twin brother,’” Patterson said at media day. “It’s so weird. I’m happy for him; he says he feels great, and I’m proud of him.”
Lowry worked with a personal trainer, hired a new nutritionist and kept eating from the same personal chef he used last year to help shed the weight, and he noted he feels lighter and quicker on the court, which has been obvious to observers thus far this preseason. Earlier in the offseason, a picture of Lowry’s new look was posted on Twitter, which caused Patterson to confirm with Lowry in a text that the photo wasn’t doctored. In the end, the aforementioned “evil twin brother” is just out to prove everyone wrong who doubted him after falling off late last season:
“I know every person who said something bad about me. I don’t need the motivation from that, but I use it. Always, it’s extra fuel when you’ve got people bashing you,” Lowry said. “It was true; I know how bad I played. I want them to say those things. Early in the year, they were saying, ‘Oh my God.’ Now I’ve got to go back to making them say, ‘Oh my God.’”
So far, so good for Lowry and the Raptors.