Lowry Is Among Elite Point Guards In NBA

Ever since his best friend Rudy Gay was traded to the Sacramento Kings, Kyle Lowry has managed to become one of the best point guards in the NBA. The Raptors have become a very unselfish team, scoring at a better clip per game, have become more efficient in their scoring, and have become one of the better defensive teams in basketball right now as well.

Lowry is taking a team that isn’t the most talented team in the league, and has made them into the third best team in the Eastern Conference, and well on their way to not only a playoff berth, but the third seed as well.

First off, let us look at the Raptors while Rudy was still on the team. This team was a paltry 6-12, did not share the ball well, in fact they were last place in assists per game, and the shooting percentages were just plain awful.

Now, Gay is not a “bad” player by any means, but he was not the right fit for Toronto, and didn’t gel with the pieces in place, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and of course, Lowry.

Lowry was at the top of his game last year when he was the alpha dog, leading the charge at the beginning of the year when the Raptors were playing their best basketball. After that, he got hurt, then Gay was brought in, and he did not recover.

However, ever since Gay left, Lowry’s game has skyrocketed him to the top of the point guard charts.

One of my favorite indicators of strong point guard play is turnovers. The Raptors were not a total mess when it came to turnovers, but Kyle Lowry has managed to make them even better, posting his lowest turnover numbers as an NBA starter at 2.2 per game, while also playing the most minutes in his career. That 2.2 mark is among the very best in the category of point guards.

In addition, his assist to turnover ratio is easily the highest it has been in his career, averaging a 3.39/1 mark, good for third in the league among point guards, behind his old running mate in Jose Calderon, and Chris Paul, two of the best passers in the league. Taking care of the ball over means more opportunities and a more efficient offense.

Speaking of his assists, those also happen to be at career high levels as well. At 7.5 assists per game, Lowry, primarily a “scoring” point guard, is right now ninth in the league, behind such greats as Paul, Stephen Curry, Jeff Teague, John Wall and Ty Lawson. This average has jumped even higher after Gay left, soaring to 8.4.

Moreover, even with increased time handling the ball, his turnover average has only risen to 2.5, still a phenomenal mark among all guards.

Lowry has managed to evolve past just being a score first point guard, and has become a great distributor as well, while also taking fantastic care of the ball.

With Lowry becoming a great distributor this year, it would be understandable considering he is doing a great job getting his teammates involved. However, his scoring has not been effected. In fact, Lowry is a better and more efficient scorer than ever this year.

Just looking at the simple stats, his 15.9 points per game are a career high. However, looking past that, it is not because he is looking to score more, we have already seen that he is actually looking to pass more, but it is because he has become a far more efficient player.

His field goal percentage, a mark of 42.9%, is good enough for his third best mark as a player, and easily his best as a full-time starter.

He has also managed to become a better scorer, without increasing his shot attempts by very much. He’s actually averaging only one more shot per game than the year in which he previously had a career high, but is averaging a full 1.6 more points per game off of it.

His three point shooting is at an all-time best, while also shooting and making more than he is ever shot. This ability to make defenders really guard him at the three-point line makes it easier for him to create space on the floor. This has made his Effective Field Goal Percentage (a combination of two point shots and three point shots, with three pointers weighted slightly more) at 52.5%, and you guessed it, a career high mark. He is ahead of guys like Paul, and Mike Conley, and right there with guys like Wall, Curry, Tony Parker and Damian Lillard, all who would be consider top 10 point guards.

At 120 points scored per 100 possessions, he has to be considered one of the best point guards in the league when it comes to simply creating points.

His defense this year has been quite spectacular, and while the Raptors defense in general has been very good, fifth in the league in points against, Lowry has been the man spearheading this defense, with his relentless effort against opposing point guards, making life hell on them.

Lowry’s defensive rating (Points allowed per 100 possessions) is at just 103. Paul, Russell Westbrook in his limited time, Curry and Ricky Rubio, only better this mark.

It is clear that Kyle Lowry has become one of the best point guards in basketball, and his all around great play proves this. He is getting career high marks in turnovers, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, shooting percentage as a starter, three point percentage, all while playing top notch defense.

The Raptors are notably better with him leading the charge, 11-5 without Gay, and those include games against the Spurs, Thunder, Heat and Pacers, arguably the four best teams in basketball.

His pitbull mentality has also managed to catch on with his teammates, as they go up against these very good teams without any fear, and play their butts off.

They have been in every game with Lowry at the helm, and even beat two of those teams. He does not necessarily get the most attention playing in Toronto, but Lowry’s level of play has been nearly elite this year, and his all-star play is the reason the Raptors are playing their best ball in years.

2013 NBA Re-Draft


The current NBA season is already one third over, and we have been given a pretty good look at the rookies from the 2013 NBA Draft. Although it was considered one of the “weaker” drafts in recent history, it seems to be full of role and rotation players, something that is always necessary have for good NBA teams.

So, I will be going over the first 15 draft picks with some analysis on each pick, and then just give you my final 15 picks. I will also keep all trades the same. Enjoy!

1. Victor Oladipo, SG – Cleveland Cavaliers | Original Selection – Anthony Bennett, SF/PF

I was a big Oladipo guy from the beginning of the draft, and even though I thought Nerlens Noel was going to be the number one guy, I felt Oladipo was going to be one of, if not, the best player from this draft. He has definitely shown it this year with the Magic, averaging a solid line of 13/4/3/1.5 all while playing very good defense.

The Cavs missed out here on getting a starting shooting guard, and being able to move Waiters to the bench, where he is more suited to play.

The Cavs have seriously messed up at the top of the draft board, too many times.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, PG – Orlando Magic | Original Selection – Victor Oladipo, SG

I guarantee you the Magic are very happy with Oladipo right now, but they really need a point guard, now that Jameer Nelson is likely on his last legs as a starter in this league. Carter-Williams has been up to this point, the Rookie of the Year in almost everyone’s eyes, so he would be the pick, even if he would split most of his time with Nelson. If he was with the Magic, he might not be putting up the same scintillating line of 18/8/5.5/3 on 41% shooting, but he would still be a major upgrade at the position, and help solidify that young lineup for years to come.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF – Washington Wizards | Original Selection – Otto Porter Jr., SF

We will call him ‘Po for short considering that is a horrific name to spell repeatedly. While many thought ’Po was going to be a long term project, he’s managed to become a quality player for the awful Bucks, providing great minutes at the small forward position. He is a freak athletically, ridiculous wingspan and is the youngest player in the NBA. The Wizards biggest position of need was the small forward entering the draft, and while Otto Porter Jr. may turn into a solid player, ‘Po has been the better player, and has shown great POtential.

4. Ben McLemore, SG – Charlotte Bobcats | Original Selection – Cody Zeller, PF

Cody Zeller was a decent selection here, but as of right now, he is a deer caught in the headlights, playing timid, and even lost his starting job to Josh McRoberts. I am going McLemore here because the Bobcats could be losing both Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon this offseason.

I love McLemore and still think he could be the best guard in the draft, and he will be a great running mate for Kemba Walker.

5. Otto Porter Jr., SF – Phoenix Suns | Original Selection – Alex Len, C

The Suns selected Len knowing his injury past, and even thought they have the best staff in the NBA, it hasn’t helped Len much, as he has missed a lot of time already. Instead Miles Plumlee has stepped up as a legitimate NBA center, burying Len on the bench. The Suns biggest need now is small forward, and with Antetokounmpo taken by the Wizards, that leaves Porter Jr. here to be snatched up, something I’m sure the Suns would love to see.

6. Nerlens Noel, C – Philadelphia 76ers (Via New Orleans) | Original Selection – Nerlens Noel, C

I am keeping this the same because I believe the 76ers will let Hawes walk if they do not deal him, and hand over the keys at center to Noel. Noel is still injured, but with GM Sam Hinkie’s plans, the 76ers do not mind this, as they can continue to blissfully tank away.

7. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG – Sacramento Kings | Original Selection – Ben McLemore, SG

With McLemore already off the board, the Kings would grab Caldwell-Pope here to provide some shooting, considering that is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. I would like CJ McCollum here for his defense, but of course, McCollum has not played this season yet, so Caldwell-Pope is the pick.

8. Trey Burke, PG – Detroit Pistons | Original Selection- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

I think the Pistons would love this one. Bring home the Michigan boy, and place him alongside that monster frontcourt as well. Brandon Knight would fit better in this equation at SG, but Jennings could also work there, as he is a shoot first player, and let Burke handle the ball.

9. Nate Wolters, PG- Utah Jazz (Via Minnesota) | Original Selection – Trey Burke, PG

Let us reach all the way into the second round for this one, for the third best rookie point guard right now, in Nate Wolters. He does not have the most upside, but is a great ball handler and passer, and has been great for the Bucks this year. However, the Jazz will really miss Trey Burke.

10. Tim Hardaway Jr., SG- Portland Trail Blazers | Original Selection – CJ McCollum, PG/SG

I am sure the Blazers would love to see what they have in McCollum, but these injuries are a real concern. Hardaway Jr. has managed to make Knicks fans abandon their love affair with Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, so the Blazers would love to add them to their already potent offense.

11. Cody Zeller, PF- Philadelphia 76ers | Original Selection – Michael Carter-Williams, PG

76ers fans would be devastated to see Carter-Williams leave, but there is now some value down here. Plenty of big men to pair of with Noel, and Zeller is the best of the rest. This would make Thaddeus Young more expendable, and probably easier to move.

12. Alex Len, C- Oklahoma City Thunder | Original Selection – Steven Adams, C

Adams is a very nice tough guy, but Len, if healthy, would give the Thunder their center of the future. Give him one year to get healthy, then Perkins contract is off the books, and Len is ready to be the big man Perkins was supposed to be.

13. Steven Adams, C – Boston Celtics (Via Mavericks) | Original Selection – Kelly Olynyk, C

I am a huge fan of Adams. Love him as an energy, hustle, tough guy, who loves to rebound and get physical down low. The Celtics need size and aggression, and while I still like Olynyk, Adams better fits the Celtics right now.

14. CJ McCollum, PG/SG – Minnesota Timberwolves | Original Selection – Shabazz Muhammad, SF

I flip-flopped on this pick here. Considering Anthony Bennett and even sticking with Muhammad, but I went with McCollum just because I think he was the best talent. Shooting, defending, scoring, the Timberwolves would like this from the swingman capable of playing both point and wing.

15. Anthony Bennett, SF/PF – Milwaukee Bucks | Original Selection – Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF

Falling a full 14 spots, the Bucks would grab Bennett here, because the guy still has talent. He has not worked out as the number one pick, and being buried behind the waves of forwards in Cleveland, but he would get a lot more leeway down here. That would be the best thing for him right now.

16. Kelly Olynyk, C – Atlanta Hawks (Via Boston)
17. Shane Larkin, PG – Dallas Mavericks (Via Atlanta)
18. Dennis Schroeder, PG – Atlanta Hawks
19. Shabazz Muhammad, SF – Cleveland Cavaliers (Via Lakers)
20. Tony Snell, SF – Chicago Bulls
21. Lucas Nogueira, C – Minnesota Timberwolves (Via Jazz)
22. Jeff Withey, C – Brooklyn Nets
23. Sergey Karasev, PG – Indiana Pacers
24. Rudy Gobert, C – New York Knicks
25. Tony Mitchell, PF – Los Angeles Clippers
26. Archie Goodwin, SG – Oklahoma City Thunder (Via Minnesota)
27. Gogui Dieng, C – Denver Nuggets (Via Jazz)
28. Allen Crabbe, SG – San Antonio Spurs
29. Ray McCallum, SG – Phoenix Suns (Via Oklahoma City)
30. Isaiah Canaan, PG – Golden State Warriors (Via Phoenix)

Christmas Gifts For Needy NBA Teams

Well, it is Christmas once again folks, and I am in the giving mood this holiday season. There are plenty of NBA teams this time of year that are needy, and could use a couple nice gifts to brighten them up, so I’d like to give you a couple teams that would be sending some very nice thank you cards in return for these gifts.

The Phoenix Suns Get Luol Deng

The Phoenix Suns might be the most surprising team in the NBA this year. Many thought they were going to be serious contenders in Riggin for Wiggins or Sorry for Jabari. However, things have gone really right this year so far as the Suns are a stunning 16-11 in the tough Western Conference. So I will give them a nice present of the best small forward on the market right now in Luol Deng.

The Bulls are in a state of flux with Derrick Rose getting hurt again, and will be shopping players around if they continue to struggle, so he should be very available. The Suns have one very interesting piece in the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor, but the value lies in their multiple first round picks this year. Toss one of those in, and the Bulls might have a tough time saying no.

Kyle Lowry to the Knicks… For a Reasonable Price

This one almost happened a little while back, but the Knicks are very much in need of a point guard like Kyle Lowry, and he’s still most likely available with Masai Ujiri shopping the entire roster save for Jonas Valanciunas. The Knicks would love his playmaking, and pit bull style of play, toughness for a team completely lacking outside of Tyson Chandler. But the caveat here is that he comes at their price, meaning they only have to give up one of the trio of Shumpert, Hardaway Jr. and their 2018 first round pick to go along with Ray Felton.

It might be tough considering how well Lowry has played in Rudy Gay’s absence, but maybe Ujiri will be in the holiday mood and give James Dolan a discount considering how badly he fleeced him in the Bargnani trade.

The Grizzlies Get Much Needed Scoring Punch in DeMar DeRozan

The Grizzlies have been an absolute mess this year, and while most of this could be fixed when Marc Gasol makes his return in January, the Grizzlies have serious problems scoring the ball from the perimeter.

Enter DeMar DeRozan.

He’s having a career year this year, averaging 21 points per game, and hitting a career high 32% from three. The Grizzlies have Tony Allen at the two guard spot right now, but he’s easily moved to the 6th man role, in favor of the more versatile DeRozan, and the Grizzlies could also run both on the court in crunch time if wanted.

The Raptors, as I said above, are shopping the entire roster essentially, so if the Grizzlies were willing to part with some picks, this is a deal I could potentially see being done.

Omer Asik to… Wherever!

The attitude of Omer Asik has been well documented since Dwight Howard came on board, and we all know he wants out. So let us just get him out, to wherever. The Rockets have plenty of options, the Cavaliers, Celtics, 76ers have all been linked to potential Asik deals.

Heck, the Celtics were on the verge of making a deal before the Rockets got cold feet just last week.

Many teams need a good rim protecting, rebounding big man like him, and would be very happy to add someone of his talents.

Thaddeus Young to the Rockets

Speaking of Omer Asik trades, this is one of my favorites. Thaddeus Young is my favorite fit beside Dwight Howard, someone who can space the floor, but also post up, the definition of a stretch four. Young is rather upset right now in Philly, so he would probably be ecstatic to see a deal like this go down, putting him on a contender like the Rockets. All of this depends on whether or not Asik is right for the 76ers and their rebuilding plans.

Any Power Forward out of Cleveland

It is going to be kind of like a Boxing Day sale when it comes to the Cleveland’s mess of power forwards. The only ones that probably will not be moved are Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. The one most likely to be moved should be Anderson Varejao, a high-energy player that any team should want. The problem here is that the Cavs have almost no direction right now, and probably have no clue what they want to do.

Kevin Love for Blake Griffin

I realize this trade is really a pipe dream, and if it were to maybe happen, it would happen in the offseason, but I can dream right? Love would fit well in almost any offense, but he would benefit nicely from the plethora of shooters the Clippers employ. For the Wolves, this would be a fantastic trade; putting Rubio with Griffin would hopefully re-energize him, getting Griffin some easy baskets. The Wolves would like this because Griffin is controllable for an extra year, and Love is an upgrade in terms of talent for the Clippers in the rough West.

It might never happen, but this would be a Christmas gift to me!

Why Raptors Improved After Trade With Kings

When the Toronto Raptors General Manager, Masai Ujiri decided to deal away the team’s “star”, Rudy Gay, many thought that this was the move that would send the Raps into true tank mode. But the Raptors players and coaches did not get this memo, and have in fact managed to play their best basketball of the season since dealing Gay, going 4-2.

So, how have the Raptors managed to secure a winning record since dealing their best player, away for what seems like scraps? Well first, let us look at the defensive side of the ball, something that Rudy Gay was not exactly leaping out of his shoes to do. For the Rudy-led Raptors, they were giving up nearly 99 points per game, and while that isn’t necessarily bad, it’s actually good, they have been quite phenomenal since he was dealt, dropping that to 94 in the past six games, two of which went into overtime.

Gay was only a part of one positive defensive lineups for the Raptors that played significant minutes. The Raptors defense has managed to go from an average defense, to a pretty good defense. Let us compare this to how Rudy is doing with his new team the Sacramento Kings. The Raptors main lineup without Gay now is: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. This lineup is giving up 104 points per 48 minutes on the court. Compare this to the Kings now dominant lineup of Isiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Gay, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins, who are giving up an astonishing 126 points per 48 minutes.

Next, let us look at how the Raptors have managed to increase the ball movement since Gay left us. One thing the Raptors had been noted for was that they were one of the most selfish teams in the league, and Gay was one of the major leading causes, using a total of slightly over 30% of the team’s possessions while on the floor.  Gay was also notorious for his poor isolation play, and his tendency to settle for mid-range jumpshots. Rudy was shooting just 37% from outside the paint and only 34% from three. This trend seemed to even rub off a bit on DeRozan as well, who was becoming more like a volume scorer, who need a lot of shots to score a lot of points. But with increased ball movement, it has become clear that the Raptors as a team, score better without Gay on the floor. Players like Terrance Ross get easier looks when the ball is moving quickly instead of sitting still.

It has also been a major boon to two of the Raptors most important players, posts Johnson and Valanciunas. Both bigs were averaging a combined 19 points on 15 shots per game with Gay on the court, and have since combined for 28 points on 21 shots per game. Being able to feed the ball to these two big men has been crucial, as it means for far easier baskets.

Assists have also gone up dramatically. The Raptors before trading Gay were easily the worst assist team in the league with just 17 per game. But since then, this has managed to go up to almost 22 per game, thanks to a much more unselfish attitude and the addition of pass first guard Greivis Vasquez.

Finally, the Raptors just have a change in mentality. There is no definitive star on this team, just a bunch of hard working, bring your lunch pail and go to work kind of players. Guys like Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough, Lowry and Derozan all look like different players. They look like they want to play with each other, and basketball is fun once again.

With the Eastern Conference wide open beyond the number one and two seeds, the Raptors went from tanking, to potentially a threat in the first round if they continue this team friendly basketball.