Miami guard Kyle Lowry’s value to his new team is already being realized, just a couple of games into the season. After blowing out the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat suffered their first loss against the Indiana Pacers in overtime, 102-91, without Lowry.
The veteran point guard missed the game because of a sprained ankle, and without him, the Heat committed twice as many turnovers in the game with Indiana (22) than against the Bucks (11) on opening night. Facing Milwaukee, the Heat shot 53.1 percent from the field, compared to just 38.5 percent without Lowry on the floor against Indiana.
Many people felt Lowry was the most important offseason pickup in the NBA, which may be true. It’s only two games, but the difference with Lowry on and off the court for Miami is apparent already. Leadership is one of those intangibles we talk about in sports that honestly can’t be measured in the same way as scoring, assisting, or rebounding, all tangible stats we can see and rank players on accordingly.
Lowry isn’t one of the tallest or fastest guys in the NBA. But when he steps on the court, he’s one of the smartest and toughest players on the floor, and one of the better leaders in the league. And that’s been proven during his career. The Heat don’t have an equivalent at the point guard position to replace Lowry when he’s out, and they’ll continue to struggle whenever he’s not available. And at age 35, Lowry will probably miss at least a few games here and there throughout the season.
Lowry spent the previous nine seasons as a Toronto Raptor, where he helped lead that franchise to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance and championship in 2019. Everyone knows the best player on that team was Kawhi Leonard, who also took home Finals MVP honors, but Lowry’s leadership on and off the court for that squad cannot be discounted. Getting teammates in position, making sure guys receive the ball in certain spots on the court, stellar defense. He had it all.
I don’t expect Lowry to score a bunch of points this year for the Heat. They have players like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo (eventually), Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson to carry the scoring load. Lowry is there to set guys up, lead the troops, and help this franchise get back to where it was in 2020. After making the Finals last October, the Heat fell off and were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round.
Without Lowry, the Heat have a good group of talented players. But adding him to the mix makes them a real contender in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, for Miami, this ankle injury doesn’t sideline him for too long. If Lowry can keep his missed games to a minimum this year, don’t be surprised to see them in the conference finals again.