Title: Inside the Raptors’ challenge to get the most out of Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard
Date: December 19, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I dove into the numbers to see how Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard are playing with and without each other through a little more than a third of the season.
For as good as the Raptors have been through the first 40 per cent of the regular season, there is a sense that the team’s two best players are yet to have overlapping stretches of peak performance. While the team’s offence has been exceptional for the most part, it’s often felt anchored by either Kyle Lowry orKawhi Leonard rather than both Lowry and Leonard.
This is exactly why you employ two stars: To help pick the other up, like Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did for so many years, as a means of maintaining a sort of floor. One key piece struggles or needs a night off? The other can take on a larger role. It’s also pretty encouraging, through the lens of where the Raptors are on their long journey to April, May and, they hope, June. If the offence is functioning well now without both stars performing at their best together, how good might it be if they can find a groove together? The Raptors owning the league’s best record at 23-9 while they’re still figuring things out is impressive, especially since the snapshot of the schedule-to-date no longer looks quite so friendly.
There are some questions that follow, though. The biggest one, at least in our comments and my mentions, has been whether that time when Lowry and Leonard thrive together is actually an inevitability or if there may be some limiting factor to the partnership. Before we take a look at that, a question of my own: Is this even actually true? Anecdotally, it certainly feels like Lowry and Leonard have traded off key runs. To wit, the season has sort of gone like this, in broad terms: