Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry Has Struggled to A Find Comfortable Role

By Michael Roberts
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Lowry has struggled to get comfortable during his first season with the Toronto Raptors.

Lowry can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to being able to deliver consistent contributions for the Raptors. There’s no question the point guard is talented but Toronto fans are quickly realizing they don’t know what they’re going to get from Lowry on a nightly basis.

The six-year guard is struggling to find a comfortable role with the Raptors and the biggest reason is because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

At the start of the season, Lowry was easily the team’s best player before he was forced out of action with an ankle injury. He was hurt in the fourth game of the season after averaging 23.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, seven assists, 3.6 steals to start the year. The six-foot tall guard was showing exactly why Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo had traded the team’s 2013 first round pick to acquire Lowry.

Unfortunately, the injury killed all of the newest Raptor’s momentum and he hasn’t been the same since. After looking like an impact player with game-changing qualities, Lowry struggled after returning from injury. Once he returned to the lineup after missing six games he lasted 12 games before a triceps injury took him out of the lineup.

Lowry played well prior to the injury but still appeared a step slow compared to how he looked to open the season. It was obvious the ankle was bothering him but the tough guard from Philadelphia wasn’t going to let it become an excuse. Right as he appeared on the verge of becoming the player Toronto saw to start the season, the triceps injury arrived to once again ruin his momentum.

With Lowry out of the lineup for seven games, Jose Calderon began playing out of his mind and became the team’s new starting point-guard. Lowry had returned as the starter after his first injury but Calderon had deservedly won the honor this time.

Adjusting to the role of coming off the bench hasn’t been easy for Lowry. He’s looked confused as to what the Raptors coaching staff wants from him when he enters the game. At times he’s looked like himself only in a reserved role while other times he’s appeared as if he’s trying to copy everything Calderon does. One game he’s looking for his shot, the next he attempts two shots and finishes scoreless with nine assists.

Lowry needs to be a scorer when he enters the game, not to say he shouldn’t be a playmaker, but he can’t shy away from his ability to put the ball through the basket. The Raptors need all the offense they can get and Lowry is certainly capable of putting up numbers when he’s being aggressive. At times, he can be selfish and attempt too many one-on-one competitions with the opposing guard. However, if he can balance getting his teammates involved while getting his on offense, Lowry is easily a top ten point guard in the league.

Calderon is the team’s starter but Lowry proved in the 107-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls that isn’t a terrible thing. If Lowry can enter any contest with the same aggressiveness he played with against Chicago, the Raptors will be in good shape against future Eastern Conference opponents. He finished with 26 points off the bench, to go along with seven assists, five rebounds and two steals while going 8 for 11 from the free throw line.

This performance comes in the second game of a back-to-back for Toronto, where Lowry finished with 21 points, after shooting 4 for 5 from three point range and 7 for 7 from the foul line the night before.

The Raptors have lost three in a row but the bright spot is the team might have just found a role for Lowry despite the negative streak. There’s no reason why he can’t be the team’s sixth man as a scoring punch off the bench. As long as he keeps his teammates involved and doesn’t over shoot the ball, Toronto could found have its newest offensive weapon.

All that matters now is whether or not it’s a role Lowry can be comfortable with. After all, does anybody think he doesn’t want to be a starter?

Michael covers ACC and Big East basketball along with the Toronto Raptors for Rant Sports, you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelxRoberts

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