“Skinny Kyle Lowry” lit up social media and had Raptors fans stunned in anticipation of what his transformed body could mean for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
It turned out that the new physique turned into a career year for Lowry, averaging 21.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds and shot 38.8% from the three-point range on 7.1 attempts per game. This season also marked the first time the Raptors have reached the conference finals and recorded 50 or more wins in franchise history – 56, to be exact.
While not directly causal, thanks to Lowry’s weight loss, the Raptors had the most successful season of their lives.
So, at this point, what happens with the Raptors when the season resumes at Disney World with what appears to be a newly grouped Lowry and, more aptly, a “Skinny Marc Gasol?” ”
There have been a few photos floating around on social media showing Lowry with Scott Steiner’s arms “Big Poppa Pump”, and what appears to be a very thinned Gasol that spawned questions similar to when “Skinny Kyle Lowry” appeared for the first time on everyone’s feed.
Is this an indication that two of the top players from the reigning champions are ready to have a season of monster bubbles?
May be. At the very least, however, it is an indication of how the two, and the entire Raptor team, kept in shape during this NBA break due to COVID-19.
” Its good. I mean, I’ve seen Marc myself many times on some Zoom calls and most of all just his face in there, “said Raptors coach Nick Nurse during a conference call Tuesday regarding photos of a more flexible Gasol. “So I thought it probably reduced a little. But I think he and Kyle look good, and I mean most of the guys (yes).
“We have – as you probably expect – requested weekly weigh-ins and things like that and there have been no alarms or problems, really. ”
Relieving the news to be heard for anyone who might be concerned that multi-million dollar professional athletes would completely let go in three months since the season was suspended.
A more realistic concern is not whether the players have maintained a certain level of fitness, but whether this level is up to the standard for professional NBA basketball.
According to the nurse, he believes the only way to get there is to go out on the field and play basketball.
“I think there is legitimate conditioning,” said the nurse. “Getting into basketball shape only happens on the basketball court, going up and down. It doesn’t happen (in) individual exercises, or on an exercise bike or all that sort of thing. So there will certainly be concerns about this. ”
That said, getting basketball back into shape should still not be very difficult for professional players who take their work as seriously as the Raptors seem to do.
In particular, the image of “Skinny Marc Gasol” illustrates this point perfectly.
Even before the season’s suspension, Gasol had missed 15 games in a row before coming back against the Sacramento Kings, then sitting back to back against Utah Jazz because of the hamstring tightness that bothered him – and forced him to miss 12 games before returning prematurely for seven – a few days before Christmas.
Gasol has already had a lot of free time to readjust, and, like having a hyperbolic time chamber, the additional rest due to the COVID-19 suspension, seems not only to put him back in full health, but perhaps even made better than before.
It’s no secret that Gasol had one of the worst seasons of his career in the NBA – the 11.9 PER he recorded this season, according to Basketball Reference, is the lowest of his career in 12 seasons.
Whether it’s exhaustion from a long championship race with the Raptors followed by another title race with the Spanish national team at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, or, can -being just the time of the father catching up with the 35 years, it is clear that something was always a little with the big man all season.
A better conditioned and better rested Gasol certainly cannot harm the Raptors with the season about to resume.
And while Gasol’s productivity is still more than snuff, as Nurse said, simply bringing it back with a healthy team will be a boon.
“I hope, like everything, that Marc is healed and in good health because we have not seen him as much this year, and because you know how I feel – he is as good as possible in this position”, said the nurse. “So if he is in good health and starts walking again, I think it makes us a better team. ”
The nurse has always praised Gasol for its intangible assets that help to win, and when you consider the fact that Toronto has a winning percentage of 0.714 when Gasol played, including the post-season, it is difficult to argue that these intangible assets are not really more concrete. .
“I think he’s a huge pillar at both ends,” said Nurse. “He’s back on defense to steer traffic, protect the rim, talk, get the guys through the screens. He just does everything there on the defensive and most with his experience and IQ.
“And I have said it 1000 times, but I never tire of saying it: whenever we are in trouble, we say:” Throw the ball to Marc and everyone starts to cut “. And generally, good things happen. , and it’s a great luxury to have this decisive force in games. ”
Even with Gasol forced to miss a lot of time this season, Nurse has seen this benefit Serge Ibaka, individually and with the rest of the team as a whole.
“I think Marc (to be) so inside and outside this year has really improved Serge’s game. Serge has been better, he has improved, he has more opportunities, so I think that will only help us. ”
Specifically, Nurse said that improving Ibaka this season, coupled with the return of a healthy Gasol, could really strengthen one of his line of pets that he has experienced in the past.
“I can imagine playing very big (in what) we like to call our‘ Jumbo Lineup ’with OG at two and Pascal three and Serge at four and Marc at five. I can imagine it being useful here in this year’s playoffs. ”
With, probably, Lowry at the forefront of this formation, this one has the potential to be downright devastating on the defensive level and with a lot of offensive versatility in terms of creation of games and shooting everywhere on the ground.
And it could be much more effective if Gasol is even faster than before.