Entering the final year of a contract will that will pay him $6.21 million for the 2013-14 season, Lowry is not only playing for a contract, he’s playing to prove he’s one of the game’s elite guards.
When the 27-year-old point guard first arrived in Toronto, he couldn’t have had a more explosive start to his Raptor career. Lowry’s first three games saw him flirt with triple-double numbers as his stat lines had some north-of-the-border wondering if he could make a run at being named to the All-Star team.
Lowry’s numbers in his first three games with Toronto were as follows:
Game 1: 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, five steals, while shooting 54.5 percent from the field after hitting six of his 11 attempts from the floor.
Game 2: 28 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, three steals, while shooting 47.4 percent from the field after hitting nine of his 19 attempts from the floor.
Game 3: 22 points, five assists, seven rebounds, three steals while shooting 80 percent from the field after hitting eight of his 10 attempts from the floor.
In the three contests, Lowry also went to the foul-line 18 times and only missed one attempt.
The point guard couldn’t have started off his career any better in Toronto, but things quickly took a turn when he was injured in the fourth game of the season. He was never the same again as for the rest of the season constant injuries prevented Lowry from either playing pain-free or playing altogether.
He missed 14 games in the 2012-13 season with a series of injuries that included ankle, shoulder and back issues. The biggest thing for Lowry entering his second season with the Raptors will be to prove he is able to stay healthy.
The other issue that plagued Lowry last season were the moments of immaturity he displayed on and off the court.
At times, Lowry would excessively bark at officials when he disagreed with calls. It got to the point where it seemed as if every game the point guard was arguing with officials even after he’d receive technical fouls. It’s understandable players are going to disagree with the officiating from time-to-time, but Lowry made it seem as if his focus was more on the officiating than trying to help his team win games.
Along with arguing with the officials, there were times Lowry could be seen pouting on the bench after losing playing time to Jose Calderon. When Lowry was forced to miss time due to injury, Calderon was inserted into the starting line-up and thrived in the role. The Spanish guard put up career numbers and the team was winning games, but when Lowry was healthy again and was told he’d be coming off the bench, he didn’t appreciate the loss of playing time despite the team’s success.
Suddenly, the attitude issues fans in Toronto had heard about from Lowry’s time with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets were becoming visible, and many began to wonder if he was a selfish player.
Lowry has proven he is a talented player who can put up impressive numbers in the NBA. Although he’s in a contract year, his focus shouldn’t be trying to fill the stat sheet. Instead, his focus should be on proving he’s a team player and not someone who barks at officials the moment things don’t go his way. He’ll also need to show he can stay healthy, because an immature, injury-prone player isn’t going to receive the type of contract someone as talented as Lowry should receive.
Lowry has all the tools necessary to be one of the top point guards in the NBA. However, if he wants to get paid like one at the end of the season, he still has a lot to prove in the 2013-14 season.