Kyle Lowry has had a strong start for the Raptors this season. (Canadian Press)Three games into the Toronto Raptors season, one thing seems clear: this new-look roster appears to have a star at point guard.
Kyle Lowry has been dominant in the early going for Toronto. His 23.7 points per game have come through proficient shooting along with a certain tenacity in the paint. His 22 total rebounds currently leads the team when at just 6'0 he's often the smallest player on the floor. And, his seven assists per game average prove that as any point guard should be, he's creating offensive opportunities for his teammates.
It looks like Toronto can finally put an end to the years of questions at the point guard position. No offense to Jose Calderon who has spent the majority of the last seven years as the Raptors starting point guard -- beating out TJ Ford, Jarrett Jack and Jared Bayless for the job in that time -- but his upside at 31 just can't be compared to that of Lowry.
The 26-year-old was Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo's biggest off-season acquisition this past summer and only seemed to be available because of his reportedly fractured relationship with Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale.
So the Rockets misfortune created an opportunity for the Raptors, and the trade that sent Gary Forbes and a future first-round pick could turn out to be the most positive move in Colangelo's tenure as Toronto's GM.
Since Chris Bosh left for Miami in the summer of 2010, the Raptors have yet to be able to refer to anyone on their roster as the 'face of the franchise.' If he isn't already, Lowry is showing he has the on-court ability to grow into the role.
Toronto sports columnist Bruce Arthur spoke very highly of the Raptors point guard after his opening night performance for the Raptors on Halloween. Arthur wrote:
"[Lowry] should be the best point guard this misbegotten franchise has ever had, Damon Stoudamire included. He is the most talented player the Raptors have had since Bosh, and the one with the most attitude since … well, Charles Oakley, maybe. Low bar in those last two categories, but Lowry has already cleared them with ease."
Sunday his performance -- 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists -- helped the Raptors to their first victory of the season, a 105-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves who were without star power forward Kevin Love.
As Eric Koreen of the National Post pointed out, near the end of the second quarter it was Lowry who led a 12-5 Raptors run "that absolutely changed the game." Koreen wrote:
"He gave the Raptors a lead with a 22-foot jumper, the first two points of a 12-5 run to end the half. Also in there: three free throws, a layup after he sat on the right passing lane — as he so often does — and an assist on an Andrea Bargnani three-pointer. The Raptors never trailed again."
There's plenty of work to be done if he's going to lead the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, but post-season or not, there's no denying the franchises future suddenly looks a whole lot brighter with Kyle Lowry a part of it.