Toronto Raptors: Does Kyle Lowry Require Load Management?

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

Kyle Lowry has had a heavy workload this season. The Toronto Raptors must change their approach and treat Lowry with the same caution they have exercised so far with Kawhi Leonard.

Three things that are guaranteed in life: Death, Taxes, and Kyle Lowry being a workhorse for the Toronto Raptors.

Whether characterized as a pit bull, a bulldog or some other small-yet-fierce animal, it is clear that Kyle Lowry has earned these monikers for never showing any quit throughout his tenure with the Toronto Raptors.

With his willingness to take charges and put his body on the line for this team, Kyle’s commitment to this organization is one thing that cannot be questioned, no matter what other criticisms you might have of his game.

Unfortunately, this attitude can be both a blessing and a curse. Players with relentless mindsets are always a welcome sight. However, these players can also get injured frequently and cost their teams by simply not being on the floor. Lowry is a perfect example of this type of player.

The positive things Kyle does for this team are already evident. In fact, our guy Luke Zahlmann already wrote a piece on Lowry’s value, calling him Toronto’s “x-factor”. Unfortunately, the negative aspects of Lowry’s Raptors career have also been apparent, especially in his inability to stay healthy at times. By the numbers, in seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Lowry has missed nine stretches of at least three consecutive games (including five stretches of at least six contests).

Accordingly, Lowry needs to be treated with the same caution as Kawhi Leonard. Before moving on, let’s address the two things most fans will likely bring up when discussing resting Lowry, both of which are more than valid: injuries cannot be prevented simply through rest and resting Lowry may compromise the team for parts of the regular season. We also know that Lowry’s demeanor will likely mean he demands to play more often than not, regardless of his injury status.

Still, periodic rest can be significantly beneficial for this team. Rest allows the body to recuperate. In advance of what is probably the Raptors playoff run with the most potential ever, a healthy Lowry will be key to the Raptors success.

Yes, the Raptors are 8-4 without Lowry this season. Still, Lowry, among Raptors players with at least 19 minutes per game, is third in Player Impact Estimate and second in Net Rating while being first in assists per game and plus/minus. In other words, Lowry is a key part of this team and he must be protected in any way possible if Toronto wants to make a run to the championship this year.

It is okay if Lowry misses one game every so often. However, if the organization can prevent Lowry from being out with an ailment for long stretches of time throughout the regular season, it cannot be a bad thing. Accomplishing this will preserve Lowry’s energy and body for when games really start to matter, a reality that will only bode well for the team in the playoffs.

At the end of the day, the preservation of Lowry’s body needs to become a primary goal for this organization. Playoff preparation requires too much foresight for the Raptors not to be cautious with their star point guard and, no matter how it is done, Toronto needs to take better care of Kyle Lowry as they aim for a long postseason run this April.

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Whether that means resting him for a week straight as they have done with Kawhi or giving Kyle games off periodically, something needs to change with how Lowry’s load is managed over the last stretch of the regular season.

All statistics accurate as of Monday, February 11th, 2019, prior to tip-off against the Brooklyn Nets.