Kyle Lowry vs Chris Paul: An All-Star Contrast
Both Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul were NBA All-Stars last year, and will be again in 2016’s contest coming to Toronto.
In 2015’s match-up in NYC, Paul played 26 minutes off the bench and led the game with 15 assists to go with 12 points. Lowry registered an East-high eight assists to go with his 10 points (including a put-back dunk!) but shot just 2-11 from three in 25 minutes as a starter.
Lowry was elected for the February 14th All-Star game by fan vote, while Paul will have to wait for the inevitable call from the Western Conference coaches. With just weeks to go until the midseason extravaganza the two point gods matched up in Toronto.
How Lowry and Paul conduct their teams is a study in style and personnel, each initiating the offence and heading the defence at the point of attack. Behind their steady leadership both the Raptors and Clippers came into Sunday’s matchup at 28-15.
Lowry is great at pressuring defence into doubling down on him, then kicking the ball back out to DeRozan or other wings for open looks. If nobody comes he reads the defence and steamrolls to the basket, but against the Clippers it’s tougher for Lowry to take it to the paint. Despite the Raptors’ improved defence this season the rim protection of DeAndre Jordan is inimitable.
Head always up, Paul commands space like no other point guard while freezing the defence before operating like a surgeon. Lowry puts the defence on edge with his pressure but it’s more linear and there’s often less happening off the ball to work with.
“Chris Paul has been invoking his will on this game,” said Raptor coach Dwane Casey pre-game while stressing they would let Paul play as little one-on-one as possible.
“Well that’s a great matchup, if I’m just a fan watching two great point guards play it’s exciting but from our standpoint we’ve got to make sure we understand what he’s trying to do with us in the pick and roll. They run a ton of pick and rolls a ton of drives and we’ve got to understand exactly that it’s not just Kyle it’s the Toronto Raptors versus Chris Paul in the pick and roll.”
Both Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry precede the defence with three balls when left open in transition. Lowry, though, has more plays run for him specifically freeing him off a screen to step into a shot. He’s shooting the most shots with 15.7, most free throws with 5.5, most threes of his career with 7.1 attempts per game (fifth most in the NBA), and scoring a career-high 20.7 points for his efforts.
“Kyle’s a great player,” Chris Paul said after the game. “He can shoot it, he can drive it like a lot of other guards in this league so I just try to slow him down as much as possible.”
Just a little give and go-get it back move gives Lowry space to squeeze a shot off. Lowry scores a higher percentage of his team’s points (20.95%) than Paul (19.47%) who facilitates for teammates more. When switched with the opposing centre guarding them they both attempt quick jab step-backs rather than beating them off the dribble. Both miss.
Similar, but different.
Both excellent one-on-one defenders, Lowry and Paul start their team’s defence on the perimeter by preventing penetration. It’s no coincidence the Raptors held the Clippers under 90 points their first meeting, something that’s happened just twice this season.
When forced to switch defenders off the pick and roll Lowry is better at squaring up to bigger players with his bulky upper body, while Paul’s quick hands try to force the steal from below. It’s this frame that gives Lowry a rebounding edge as well averaging 5 rebounds to Paul’s 3.8.
Off the ball Lowry takes chances reaching in lanes and often gets the steal. So does Paul, but he seems to get burned less often for his chances. Both are excellent at reading the play and helping on defence to rip the ball away. They’re among the league leaders in steals per game with 2.2 for Lowry and 2.1 for Paul, but remember CP3 is the seven-time All-NBA Defensive Team member.
At one point Lowry goes over and talks to James Johnson after he fouled JJ Redick on a three-point attempt, then looked back at the bench as if to say to Casey “what can we do.” Him and coach are in it together. Paul shares a similar bond with Doc Rivers.
The pairing of Lowry and Cory Joseph with Chris Paul on the bench put too much pressure on the Clippers and secured the Raptor lead for good. LA missed Blake Griffin but this game revolved around the point position, where Lowry cued Toronto to a 112-94 victory.
Kyle Lowry – 20.7 pts, 6.4 ast, 5.0 reb, 2.2 stl, 2.7 3PM, .508 eFG%
Chris Paul – 18.6 pts, 9.7 ast, 3.8 reb, 2.1 stl, 1.5 3PM, .504 eFG%