Monday, April 28, 2008

Season in Review: Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry is a pit bull in an basketball jersey. He's the heart that pumps a softer than desired team. He's the little engine that could.

And, like the little engine that could, Kyle constantly has a tough mountain to climb that most people believe he can't make over.

He turned pro as a sophomore off of a college team loaded with bigger named talent like Randy Foye and Allen Ray. He wasn't considered the best PG on his team much less the best in the draft. Many people questioned his deserving a 1st rd pick when Jerry West made him his last draft pick as the Grizzlies GM. In a draft with PGs like Foye, Rajon Rhondo, Quincy Douby, Mardy Collins, Sergio Rodriquez and Jordan Farmar, it didn't seem like a great choice at the time.

But Kyle told himself 'I think I can, I think I can...'

His rookie year began with a bang. Opening night Kyle came in and nearly rescued the Grizzlies as he grabbed 10 boards to go with 6 pts, 3 assists and two steals as the Grizzlies fell in triple OT. Unfortunately Kyle's season ended 9 games later with a broken wrist. A very slow to heal broken wrist that frustrated fans anxious to see the little man go. Two surgeries and 6 months later Kyle still struggled to do trivial activities with his wrist. That slow recovery may have influenced the Grizzlies decision to draft Mike Conley with the 4th pick in the draft.

But Kyle kept telling himself 'I think I can, I think I can...'

Now Kyle had a new mountain to climb. Not only did he have to prove that his wrist was healthy, beat out veteran Damon Stoudamire for playing time but also maintain his spot ahead of Mike Conley in the rotation. Many people felt he wouldn't be able to accomplish this.

'I think I can. I think I can.'

The wrist injury appears perfectly healed and that time off allowed him to improve his mechanics on his shot. Damon, who never recovered from his own injury, was moved on and the final battle between Mike and Kyle is still being debated but one thing is for sure. Kyle Lowry belongs in the NBA.

'I know I can. I know I can.'

So what kind of season did Kyle Lowry have? He improved his shooting percentage from 36.8% to 43.2%. 43.2% isn't great but it is respectable. He struggled all season with his outside shot (only 25.7% from behind the arc) which allowed teams to play off him to deny penetrating drives but Kyle still managed to come within 29 pts of averaging double figures despite only starting 9 games all season. Kyle achieved his first double figure assists game against Washington in January and played a career high 50 minutes against New Orleans in December.

But you can't appreciate Kyle Lowry's game simply by the numbers. Numbers don't describe the harassing defense he plays, the tempo he brings to the game or his emotional leadership. Kyle is an intangible player. It isn't what you see on the stats sheet per se (although Dave Berri's Wages of Wins does have him producing the 2nd most wins on the team this season) but it's what you see on the court that best defines Kyle Lowry. It's his effort, his passion and his dogged determination that forces the rest of the players to follow him to success.

Does Kyle have the type of skills to be a starting PG? Is his outside shot going to improve enough to force teams to respect his shot? Will he become better at passing out of trouble to open men for easy baskets? Right now we don't know but I wouldn't bet against someone with his attitude and determination. I wouldn't be surprised to hear one day that the answers to these questions is simply.

'I knew I could. I knew I could.'

BallHype: hype it up!


Boyer said...

lowry's first game against the knicks was tripple over time..wasn't it??

ChipC3 said...

Oops. Thanks for catching that. It was triple OT.

We need to get a better editor for this site!

AC said...

You hit on all the positive aspects of Kyle's game, Chip, and I love him for that. But I have a problem with his decision making when he gets into the 'I'm taking over' mindset. You can see that switch flip, and when it does something bad usually happens on two out of every three possessions.

He isn't very good at running a half-court set yet, and that's point guard 101. By comparison, Conley always looks calm, collected, and most importantly, patient. Kyle tends to run headlong at the basket when the first option isn't there.

If we can land Rose in the draft, in my opinion Kyle immediately becomes trade material. Otherwise, it's a preseason battle between him and Crittenton for the backup PG slot, and I'm already leaning towards Javaris until Kyle proves he can hit more than one jumper per game.

ChipC3 said...

Well this is a Fan site so we tend to emphasize the positive.

Personally I think Kyle is solid in Memphis for next year. Yes he makes rookie mistakes running the offense but that is because he has only played about 92 games and is 21 yrs old.

His contract is much less expensive than Conley and if Memphis gets another PG in the draft then his contract will be less than the new guys as well. I can't see Memphis paying two high lottery picks at the point so one of them will be easier to trade and more cost effective.

While I personally don't see Kyle possessing a starter's mentality right now he is an excellent sub. He is a momentum changer on the court and if he can continue to develop his outside shot his drives will be that much more effective.