Erik Spoelstra, the head coach of the Miami Heat, is clearly ecstatic with Kyle Lowry’s addition. During Media Day, Spoelstra discussed the numerous aspects of Lowry’s game that contribute to his team’s success — his control, variety on offence, and disruptiveness on defence — but there was one aspect in particular that he discussed in depth.
Kyle Lowry will rev up the offence for the Miami Heat
When questioned about Lowry’s ability to get out in the open court, Spoelstra said, “I love that facet of his game.” “And, again, when you look at his influence, there are so many different areas where he impacts winning, and that’s one of them – getting easy baskets and setting a pace where players would run and know they’ll get the ball.” It’s not always about the bottom line quantity of fastbreak points or your pace, but when those things happen, and if you can get a few critical easy ones during important periods of the game, it can mean the difference between winning and losing, and it can elevate your offensive to a whole new level. But fighting against him, I dreaded his pace the most because it was those unpredictable, unscripted moments that you can’t really plan for, and his IQ and skill level in those situations is on par with everyone in the league. “I believe that will benefit our group, particularly if we can defend the way we want to while also generating some easy buckets in the opposite direction.” Although Spoelstra stated that it is not always about the “bottom line figure,” let us discuss it briefly.
The Heat have never finished higher than 16th in the NBA in pace during Spoelstra’s 13 seasons as head coach. They’ve been playing at one of the league’s slowest paces recently, ranking 27th in 2019-20 and 29th in 2020-21. When Lowry first joined the Raptors, they didn’t play at a particularly rapid tempo, but they’ve ended near league average in each of the last four seasons, with the 2019-20 season being the fastest. Lowry wasn’t the only one on the Raptors who pushed the pace, but he was the one who got things going. Only 17 players in the 2017-18 season scored more points in transition than he did. In 2018-19, the number increased to 38, but in 2019-20, it decreased to seven. Despite playing in only 46 games this season, Lowry finished in the top 50 in transition scoring, his second-lowest total in his career. Simply said, Miami has a reputation of playing slowly, but this summer got a lead guard who thrives in the open court. It all starts with Lowry’s ability to shoot off the dribble. One of his defining movements is the PUJIT (pull-up jumper in transition).
Lowry knows how to operate without the ball in his hands, having played with ball handlers like DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet. That speaks well for his ability to play alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Lowry is also a brilliant playmaker for others, the type that rewards his teammates for assisting him on the court. There is no publicly available statistic for how many assists a player generates in transition, but 1) it’s safe to assume that Lowry would be near the top of the league, and 2) Lowry’s impact can be seen when comparing how many fastbreak points the Raptors averaged per 100 possessions with him on the court versus how they fared without him.
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