Kyle Lowry is the All-Star point guard for the Toronto Raptors. He makes up one half of one of the top five backcourts in the NBA. During the regular season Lowry averaged over 20 points per game while shooting 39 percent from beyond the arch. His three point shooting was the perfect foil to DeMar DeRozan's ability to slash to the rim at a moments notice. When Lowry and DeRozan are both playing at their full potential the Raptors are easily the second best team in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately for Toronto, Lowry has completely lost his feel for the three point shot. His three point percentage is currently sitting at 16 percent. He is only averaging 13.5 points in these playoffs and his field goal percentage has gone down from 43 percent in the regular season to cringeworthy 30 percent in these playoffs.
Against a savvy team like the Miami Heat, having a score first point guard lose his jump shot is a huge hinderance. The Raptors get a lot of their offensive sets started with a simple pick and roll between Lowery and a Raptors big, usually Jonas Valanciunas. With Lowry in the midst of his super-slump the Heat defenders are just sinking under the pick, making it extremely hard to get anything going inside, and forcing Lowry to either take a shot he is in no way comfortable with right now, or pass the ball the weak side where there is nothing going on.
An NBA offense is an extremely fragile thing. For Lowry to even have a moments hesitation when making a decision off of a pick and roll or when getting wide open looks from three, is disastrous to everything Toronto needs out of their leader. Lowry knows this. You can see a look of anguish on his face every time he misses a open jumper, or worse, when he gives up the ball because he is afraid to take that same shot.
Confidence is such a huge part of basketball, and I can't imagine how big a role it plays in playing professionally. We've all had bad days or weeks with our jump shots playing ball. You miss a bunch of shots in a row and all of a sudden it can feel like your shooting the ball with someone else's hands. The remedy to this condition is usually just seeing the ball go in a couple times in a row, or making a shot so crazy that it knocks you out of your funk. I thought this half court buzzer beater would have done the trick for Lowry, but we've only had one overtime period to to test that hypothesis and the results were not great.
Lowry stayed at the Air Canada Centre after game one, throwing up jump shots late into the night. There's something to be said for just watching the ball go in the hoop, although I found it really strange that he didn't at least have a ball boy getting his rebounds for him.
Things have gotten so bad for Lowry that some have called for benching the All Star for his backup Corey Joseph. I've talked about how much I like Joseph in the past, he's a hyper intelligent player who plays great defense on his position and has been averaging 10 points in 23 minutes per game this postseason, with a three point shooting percentage of 55%.
It has to be tempting to Raptors Head Coach, Dwane Casey to at least try as a starter, and if Lowry continues to struggle in game two, I could see Joseph installed into the lineup sooner than later. But as we have see with teams like the Celtics and Pacers, to be successful in the playoffs you really need two playmakers. As much as I like CoJo, he is not going to create a lot of his own shots, and DeMar DeRozan is at his best coming off pin down screens, and driving when the opportunity presents itself.
The Playoffs provide such a small sample size when it comes to trying to figure out whats wrong with a guy, there's a chance Lowry could go on a tare over the next week and his numbers will fall back in line with what he shot in the regular season. There's also a chance that he could shoot his way out of the starting lineup and the Raptors will stand little chance of beating the Miami heat. Time will tell if Lowry can get out of his own head and get back to being the All-Star that Toronto needs him to be.
If you have seen Kyle Lowry's jump shot please call this toll-free number: 1-800-555-5555