Toronto Raptors: What are the odds Kyle Lowry leads the league in assists?

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Kyle Lowry has made a name for himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. What are the odds the Toronto Raptors man leads the league in assists?

From a back-up point guard to a five-time NBA All-Star, NBA Champion and an all-around elite point guard, Kyle Lowry has changed the narrative of his career on a whim. A member of the Toronto Raptors for over seven years, Lowry has seen and done it all north of the border.

A primary role of all point guards is to facilitate. The art of passing and shot-creating is something that not every player is privy too. Some can see the court better than others, a sixth sense vision for distribution, if you will.

The list of point guards that can put up double-digit assists per game is a small list. The likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Ben Simmons spring to mind. But so does Kyle Lowry, rightly so.

This past season saw Lowry put forward his best assist totals in his career. Averaging 8.7 assists per game, Lowry finished second in the NBA for assists per game, trailing only Russell Westbrook who averaged a triple-double for the third consecutive year, chalking up 10.7 assists per game.

Lowry frequently posted double-digit numbers in assists, dishing between 10 and 14 assists on 23 separate occasions, and even hitting 17 assists against the Atlanta Hawks earlier in the season.

Now that Lowry is an NBA champion and setting the bar so high, something he has been doing for years, what is next on his list of goals?

Obviously, winning a second NBA title is on top of that list. It should be for every NBA player.

Lowry is an elite point guard, though. What are the odds he can go one better than last year and lead the league in assists?

Surrounding talent

While the Toronto Raptors remain one of the most talented teams in the NBA, the loss of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green has significantly reduced the overall talent of the team.

That may make Lowry’s job just a little bit harder in terms of distribution. Without handing off the ball to a superstar like Leonard, easier buckets are a little harder to come by. With that being said, Lowry is an elite passer who can find holes as not many players can.

Pascal Siakam will likely be the fulcrum of the Raptors offense this season. He’s a unique offensive player that functions best in transition, though his game could really take a leap as a one-on-one scorer this season. Other than that, the Raptors don’t have a plethora of shot-creators to throw at other teams.

Functionality wise, that means the ball is more likely to be in Kyle Lowry’s hands a lot more often. Last season, Lowry had a usage percentage of just over 19-percent, his lowest since the 2010-11 season. A lot of that is down to the fact he was the third scoring option on the team, behind Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.

In turn, that meant his assist-percentage shot way up to a career-high 34.8-percent. Lofty numbers. Managing the load as a scorer will be an interesting task for Lowry, especially when trying to carry the load as the team’s main facilitator.

The competition

Lowry can only do as much as he can physically do. The ball will be in his hands a lot more, which means there’s more opportunity to create, but he still needs to out-assist other players around the league.

The competition is fierce. Over the last eight seasons, only four players have led the league in assists. The aforementioned Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook – who has led in the last two seasons – are two of those players. The other two players to hold that title are James Harden and Rajon Rondo.

It’s fair to assume that out of those four names, only three have a shot at the title. Rajon Rondo is unlikely to be starting for the Los Angeles Lakers this forthcoming season, so his name is out of the hat. Harden and Westbrook now play on the same team and will likely cancel each other out in some regards, and the fit still remains a huge question mark.

Paul now finds himself on an Oklahoma City Thunder team in transition, and there are questions that he could even be on the team to start the season, so his status remains up in the air. When thinking off assists, it’s hard not to bring up LeBron James, one of the best passers of all-time. He has a new running mate in Anthony Davis and could well be averaging double-digit assists by the end of the season.

What are the odds?

Well, considering that Lowry is the team’s main facilitator and will likely see the ball in his hands more often, it’s entirely possible. The offensive layout of the Raptors over the past two years has been much more in trend with what works for Lowry as a player, which explains the spike in his numbers last year.

A lot of it will come down to how the Raptors perform as a team, though. And since they figure to be in a shout for 50 wins once again, the odds are reasonably high.

The final odds: 35-percent

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That doesn’t seem particularly high, but considering the talent around that league at the moment, it could be anyone’s game. Lowry has just as much of a shot as anyone.