It felt like Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said it best on Twitter Wednesday night: “Kyle Lowry is not appreciated as he should be.”
But as for all the tweets about the Toronto Raptors point guard being a future Hall of Famer?
My first instinct was an immediate NO.
But as you go through his case, you start to get the feeling that if he keeps up this kind of play the rest of his career, he’s got a shot.
That would make him the NBA version of Adrian Beltre, the former MLB third baseman who was just very good when he was younger and then positively exploded in his 30s and should make it to Cooperstown when he’s eligible.
Lowry started his career as the 24th pick overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006. With them and the Houston Rockets — fun fact, he was part of the Rafer Alston, Brian Cook and Adonal Foyle three-team trade in 2009 — he wasn’t even close to stardom.
In his first season with the Raptors in 2012-13, he averaged 11.6 ppg and 6.4 apg. But then he blossomed the following season and never looked back. Since then, from 2014 through this season, he averaged 18.4 ppg, 7.2 apg, 1.5 spg and 4.9 rpg. Really good numbers. But Hall of Fame stats? Not quite. He’s never led the league in any category.
In his favor? He won a ring last season and he’s been an All-Star each of the last six seasons as one of the best point guards in the East. And he’s done some really good stuff in the postseason, like Wednesday night’s big shot:
And remember that pass from earlier in the series?
Here’s my theory: let’s say he keeps up this kind of All-Star-level play in the next four or five years (for what it’s worth, he turned 34 in March). Only then does he have a case. An average of around 500 assists in five seasons gets him from 44th all-time in assists per game to 12th as of right now — that’s ahead of Rod Strickland, Hall of Famers Maurice Cheeks and Lenny Wilkens. That would be more than what Tony Parker had in his career that could end with the French star enshrined in Springfield.
I don’t think it’s as certain as of right now. But that’s what we were saying about Adrian Beltre in the middle of his career. All that’s left is to see if Lowry can continue to have that kind of late-career boost.