No Lowry, Big problem
I was initially going to do 2 rights and 4 wrongs, but this was a rare opportunity to match the right and wrongs with the Raptors’ win-loss column (1-4). So instead of talking about just how good Kyle Lowry has been, I’ll talk about how lost the team has looked when he is off the court.
The point differential in points per 100 possessions when Lowry is off the court is mind-boggling. The offense scores at a horrid rate of 81.4 points per 100 possessions when Lowry is off. When Lowry is on, that number goes all the way up to 108.5 — that’s a +27.1 on/off rating when Lowry is on, ranking him in the 97th percentile of all players.
The team crumbles in the minutes Lowry sits and there are few reasons for that.
The Fred VanVleet minutes as the primary point guard when Lowry is off haven’t been good so far. Though VanVleet is a decent passer, he is nowhere near the passer Kyle Lowry is. VanVleet struggles to make textbook passes off the pick and roll (pocket pass or lobs). He has been a good passer in terms of finding open three-point shooters, but that’s about it.
The reason Fred VanVleet with no Lowry worked last season was because of Marc Gasol. Gasol’s playmaking was so important for what the Toronto Raptors did on offense and that’s why his minutes were mostly paired up with VanVleet. VanVleet’s limited playmaking ability didn’t look so bad when Gasol was doing a lot of the playmaking for the team. That is why there was so much emphasis on making Siakam a playmaker in an attempt to help mask VanVleet’s deficiencies as a main creator.
No matter what, one of Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet will be on the court at all times. And the Raptors have to find a way to make the non-Kyle minutes work if they want any chance of competing for the playoffs. Whether that’s making Siakam more of a playmaker, VanVleet improving as a passer, or just sharing the ball more (I won’t even mention Flynn’s name, not sure what it’ll take him to get a chance).
It doesn’t matter what it is, they have to find a way to score when Kyle Lowry is resting.