Not having been in Memphis or Houston for any of those early days, we can’t say for sure what went down. But suffice it to say Lowry’s reputation was tainted in the process. He arrived in Toronto with the reputation of being, at best, a difficult player for coaches to handle. Lowry, perhaps because he was never in full health that first year, did nothing to dissuade this. But he has been the consummate team player in Year 2 of his Raptors tenure. Listen to Dwane Casey, who had his moments with Lowry in that first year, as he keeps talking about how Lowry has turned over a new leaf. “Kyle has brought his game to a different level, and maintained it,” Casey said recently. “Kyle has shown he can be a positive leader. I think that was the biggest question among coaches around the league.”
What may be even more impressive about DeRozan is the personal maturity he’s displayed. It’s an intangible that most people wouldn’t notice unless they were around the Raptors on a regular basis. The growth, as a young man with responsibilities, has been immense, and the motivation for that change is rooted in family—not just basketball. “I’d have to say night and day,” DeRozan answers when asked to describe the change in him as a person this season. “Just to see how much I’ve grown from being a father —raising my [infant] daughter every day—waking up every morning, going to work, trying to get better, being hard on myself [and] trying to be the best player I can be. I’ve definitely seen a maturity in me just growing daily.”
If Afflalo is held back by Orlando being mired at the bottom of the East standings, how much of a bump can DeRozan get from being the lead dog pulling the wagon for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors? That is odd just to type. But there’s no question that Toronto has come together in the aftermath of the Rudy Gay trade. The 24-year-old DeRozan has ably stepped up to carry the offensive load and has shined in big wins at Oklahoma City and at home over the Pacers. He’s scoring, passing and rebounding. The only thing missing is a dependable 3-point stroke.
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here’s no need to sign Lowry now, even if it does prevent him from walking. He’s remained injury-free all season, which goes against how he’s been for a majority of his career (47 games played in 2011-12 and 68 in 2012-13). Toronto should also afford themselves the luxury of evaluating his progress over the next several months before deciding to lock him up for the long term. But what if he leaves? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Sometimes in life, you have to roll the dice.
The Celtics are a young team and the young players are playing big minutes and there’s a risk this group has been distracted by the possible return of Rondo – which could come as early as Friday against the Lakers, but even Rondo isn’t going to turn this season around if the Celtics don’t start picking it up at the defensive end.
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