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Numbers Game: Raptors deal for point guard Lowry

Scott Cullen
7/5/2012 4:56:55 PM
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After failing to land free agent point guard Steve Nash, the Toronto Raptors rallied by dealing for a player that may be a better fit for the young, rebuilding team.

Numbers Game looks at the trade for Kyle Lowry.

The Raptors Get: PG Kyle Lowry.

Lowry, 26, has been steadily improving and, in the past couple seasons, has emerged as a quality starting point guard. Over the last two seasons, Lowry is one of a handful of players that have averaged at least 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. He's at the low end on those scales, but the others on the list (LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Rajon Rondo) are high-quality players.

It's also worth noting that Lowry's numbers in 2011-2012 were even better (15.6 ppg, 7.6 apg, 5.3 rpg in 35.5 minutes per game) before he suffered a bacterial infection that caused him to miss time and play a reduced role even once he returned to action.

While Lowry is a little short, at 6-feet even, he's solidly built and doesn't hesitate to play in traffic, driving to the rim as well as defending the paint and rebounding at his own end of the floor. Shooting isn't a particular strength for Lowry, but he's improving.

He's hit 37.5% of his trhee-point attempts over the last two seasons, which ranks 15th in the NBA among players with at least 500 attempts and it's a significant improvement on Lowry's previous long-range marksmanship, which was below 27.2% in each of the previous three seasons.

Lowry's presence in Toronto makes Jose Calderon expendable. Lowry's improvement has come when finally given control as the Rockets' starting point guard, so going back to shared duty at the point may not be an ideal situation for Lowry's continued development.

In addition to improving offensive numbers, Lowry should be a good fit in Toronto because he's a tough and effective defender who takes charges and has the strength to hold his own against other point guards.

Lowry may not be an All-Star-calibre point guard but, provided that he's healthy, his numbers in the first half of last season suggest that he has the chance to be a well above average starter at the position and the Raptors do appear to be a good fit for his particular strengths.

Signed for two years, at a total cost of $11.96-million (per www.hoopshype.com), Lowry is also a bargain for a starting point guard.

The Rockets Get: SG Gary Forbes and a lottery-protected (both ways) first-round pick.

One of the reasons that the Rockets are prepared to move Lowry, it would seem, is that they have extended an offer sheet to Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. With Goran Dragic set to join the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets must be reasonably confident that they can secure the services of another point guard (be it Lin or someone else) to take over once Lowry is gone.

Forbes is a 26-year-old, 6-foot-7 wing who worked his way into a more significant rotation role for the Raptors in the second half, playing 20:48 per game in his last 24 games after playing less than nine minutes per game in his first 24. In that more significant role, Forbes averaged 10.0 points, 2.7 rebouns and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc.

Those numbers don't suggest stardom, by any means, but Forbes could slide into a rotation role for the Rockets. He has one year remaining on a contract that pays him $1.5-million, so if he can work into the Rockets' top nine, Forbes would be a serviceable addition.

According to Yahoo!, the draft pick is apparently lottery protected, but not in the typical manner, which usually guarantees that the pick is outside the lottery. In this case, the pick is protected against being too high in the lottery, but also guaranteed to be in the lottery.

The specifics still need to be sorted out, but if the pick falls between six and 14, for example, there is going to be real value for Houston. Looking at the drafts from 2005-2010, there were 54 selections made in that range and 19 (35.2%) are starters.

Getting Lowry won't immediately turn the Raptors around, but figures to be a move in the right direction and opens the door to additional moves as they set the roster for next season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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