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Kyle Lowry’s Struggles Bode Ill for Raptors

Kyle Lowry’s first two months were brilliant. Lowry was the catalyst of one of the most potent offenses in the NBA, and over a month of that was without DeMar DeRozan. With the point guard leading the charge, the Toronto Raptors sat at 24-8 when the calendar turned to 2015, and his great play over the first two months earned him a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Let’s just say 2015 hasn’t been nearly as kind to Lowry and the Raptors.

Toronto still may be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Raptors have gone 13-12 since that 24-8 start, and they’ve lost three games in a row after surprisingly dominating the Atlanta Hawks in the first game out of the All-Star break. Lowry’s struggles have played a big role in the team’s problems, as the offense has regressed significantly since the hot start.

Let’s take a look at Lowry’s month-by-month numbers:

November 19.7 6.4 44.7 31.0
December 22.3 8.9 46.3 40.5
January 16.6 6.8 37.4 30.5
February 12.8 5.9 35.4 26.1


Lowry’s season peaked in December, when DeRozan was on the shelf with a groin injury. But Lowry’s year has steadily gotten worse since then, and February has been an absolute disaster for the point guard. While it was natural to expect Lowry’s averages to dip with DeRozan back to soak up more possessions, the stark drop in efficiency has been a quite stunning.

Here’s a look at Lowry’s shot charts from the first two months (includes one game in October):



And here’s the last two months, which features a whole lot of red:

Shotchart_1424977668415Obviously the shooting is worse across the board, but there are a few noticeable trends that have been a major problem. For one, nearly 40 percent of Lowry’s shots came in the paint in the first two months. The last two months, about a third of his shots have come in the paint, and he has really struggled to convert on those looks in the paint, but outside the restricted area.

On a related note, Lowry’s free throw attempts have come down. He took over six free throw attempts per game in November and over five per game in December, but he’s at just 3.4 attempts per game in February and took 3.6 per game in January. Clearly, he’s having a tougher time effectively attacking the rim.

With Lowry struggling, the Raptors’ offense has fallen off a cliff. Through those first two months, Toronto scored a whopping 111.7 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. That number was second in the entire league to only the Dallas Mavericks, who were at 112.1 points per 100 possessions heading into 2015.

Since then, the Raptors have scored a pedestrian 102.9 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.¬†That’s still in the top half of the league over that span (12th), but Toronto generally hasn’t been good enough defensively to be able to make up for such a regression offensively. (Although the Raptors have been much better on defense of late.) Funny enough, the Mavericks’ offense is just above the Raptors these past two months, as Dallas has had some point-guard problems of its own.

There’s still time for Lowry and the Raptors to turn things around, but it’s troublesome that this slump has gone on for two months. It’s understandable for a player to go through a slump for a week, or even two or three. But two months? That’s a bad sign, and Toronto better hope he (and DeRozan for that matter) can right the ship.



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