Toronto Raptors fans only had one look at Kyle Lowry in the 2020 preseason, but when he spoke he appeared to be in midseason form already.
In the preseason final in Toronto, Lowry finished with a record 25 points, shooting 7 for 14 from the field and 6 for 10 from beyond the arc in just 27 minutes of action. While the six-time All-Star looked superb on the attacking side, he told reporters after the game that his main goals for the team this coming season were on the defensive side.
When the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith asked Lowry what he wanted these Raptors to become as a team this season, he quickly responded with championship aspirations before responding in a different way.
“I think we should become a real defensive monster,” Lowry began. “And I think that’s where I would like us to become. I don’t want us to be that offensive juggernaut, I want us to be a defensive team, where every possession, every night, the team that arrives knows it. it’s gonna be a slug-it-out game and they’re gonna get hit, they’re gonna be beaten and they’re not gonna roam free.
“I think that’s something I would like us to become. ”
While an All-Defensive selection eluded him during his 14-year NBA career, Lowry is widely regarded as one of the league’s most versatile defensemen in guard duty. Last season, he and the Raptors boasted of the league’s second-largest defense with a defensive rating of 104.7.
Taking it a step further, the Raptors have had a top-five defense in each of the past three seasons.
Despite its status as an elite defensive team over the past three years, Toronto has only had one player selected to a fully defensive team during that span, with Kawhi Leonard winning that accolade in 2019. Last season, Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam each received votes, with Lowry getting the most points in the group.
After losing both their defensive anchors to Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka this offseason, the Raptors will rely on the above four to maintain the team’s defensive identity while also bringing in newcomers like Aron Baynes, who according to Lowry, should add seamlessly to the team’s physics. identity.
“Aron is definitely one of those guys where – you watch him, he’s a beast, right?” Lowry told reporters the Baynes 6-foot-10, 260-pound frame. “He’s a great man, he’s a stallion when it comes to physicality. ”
Baynes, like Lowry, has shown a penchant for accusations in his career. While Lowry drew the league’s 34 best charges in 58 games last season, Baynes finished eighth in the league with 16 draws in just 42 games.
As Lowry clarified, it’s that level of tenacity and hard playing that exemplifies the kind of physicality he wants to see from this team.
“It’s not even about physics, it’s just about knowing that you’re really going to have to play hard and that’s what we (hang on) our hats for – play hard. You cut the paint, you are going to be hit, you are going to be tagged.
“So these are the things, when I say ‘physical’ it’s not really beating you physically but making sure that if you cut the paint you will feel us that day. ”
Starting with the starting unit, the Raptors have a roster capable of maintaining sustained excellence on the defensive side, with key returns in Chris Boucher and Norman Powell as well as newcomers in DeAndre ‘Bembry and Malachi Flynn, who have each has such a tough reputation- working advocates.
The Raptors open the 2020-21 NBA season when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. On Wednesday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.
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