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Kyle Lowry NBA Draft Scouting Report
by:
April 30, 2006
Strengths
Kyle Lowry’s game is all about explosiveness. Certain point guards have that electric ability to do something special every time they put the ball on the floor, and Lowry belongs in that category. Thick-bodied and physical, Lowry embodies that tough Villanova mentality we saw all season long, and is probably the most athletically imposing point guard in the 2006 draft.

Simply put, Lowry is a blur on the court. His pure speed makes him a threat to create a fast break basket in the blink of an eye, and he generally makes good decisions in the open court. He pushes the ball relentlessly at every opportunity, seeming to pick up steam when other players begin to tire.

His first step sticks out even at the NBA level, as very few point guards anywhere are as dangerous as Lowry off the dribble. It doesn’t take much of an opening for Lowry to get to the basket, even with defenders usually daring him to beat them with his jumper. He will cross defenders over, slash to the basket, or pull up for the occasional midrange jumper in traffic. Lowry’s strength is a major advantage here, as he has no problem powering through a bit of body contact on the way to the basket.

Lowry’s explosiveness is even more evident on the defensive end, where is capable of changing a game at the drop of a hat with his brutal on-the-ball pressure defense. Villanova’s vaunted 4-guard lineup was known for its suffocating fullcourt defense, and while Randy Foye and Allan Ray might have been the big-time scorers, Lowry was the catalyst on the defensive end. An opposing point guard’s worst nightmare, Lowry never stops pressuring the basketball. He has lightning quick hands and feet, and that thick frame perfect for getting physical with already overmatched lead guards.

Lowry seems to relish playing the aggressor on the defensive end, and shows great anticipation skills any time an opponent starts to get lazy passing the ball. He led the Big East in steals as a sophomore, and given Lowry’s ability to handle the ball and get down the court, many of those steals resulted in two points before the opposition even had a chance to react.

As a point guard, Lowry has received plenty of help in his two seasons at Villanova, but took over as Jay Wright’s primary floor general as a sophomore. Flawless as a dribbler, Lowry has excellent court vision and does a good job of moving the ball within the offense. Very rarely does he make a pass that isn’t productive in some way. He improved his Ast/TO ratio substantially this season, finishing at a respectable 1.7-to-1. When things are clicking for him, there are times when Lowry can take over as a fullcourt ballhandler, breaking presses by himself, making lightning quick decisions and creating for his teammates effortlessly.

Lowry uses his physical nature to his advantage around the basket. He rebounds very well for a smaller point guard (4.3 per game), and his ability to get off the floor quickly allows him to find success on the glass against much taller players. If one only saw his game-winning offensive rebound put back against Notre Dame this past season, they would never guess that Lowry is a 6’0 PG.

Finally, special mention must be given to the way that Lowry plays the game. He had a bit of a hothead reputation coming out of high school, but Lowry has managed to filter out most of the negatives while keeping every bit of his fiery, aggressive on-court persona. He plays with unrivaled physicality and passion, and displays a relentlessness that many college-level guards really can’t prepare for. Every coach wants to have a KyleLowry-style guard in his backcourt.


Weaknesses
While Lowry generally passes the look test as an NBA point guard prospect, questions still remain about his ability to control a game full-time. Lowry played a complementary role (at least offensively) to Randy Foye and Allen Ray in Jay Wright’s backcourt rotation, and while many have claimed that their presence was the only thing keeping Lowry from exploding into full-fledged stardom, they also unquestionably made things easier for him.

How would Lowry have handled being a marked man next fall, with defenses now focused in on him instead of Foye and Ray? Would he be able to keep up the defensive intensity and stamina with his increased offensive role? Most believe that Lowry has the tools to play in the NBA, but he could prove it once and for all by returning to Villanova and leading the Wildcats back to the NCAA Touranment in that “go-to” role.

Beyond this, Lowry’s biggest question mark at this point may be a suspect perimeter jumper. While his percentages look good, Lowry rarely attempted to score from the outside at Villanova. Part of this was due to the presence of three outstanding shooters in the Villanova lineup in Ray, Foye, and Nardi, but defenders didn’t feel compelled to guard Lowry’s jump shot most of the time, and Lowry rarely made them pay for it. His form has improved substantially from his freshman season, but Lowry still must that he can keep defenses honest on a consistent basis.

There is a fine line between aggression and forcing the issue, and with Lowry’s mentality, he tends to toe it quite often. There are moments on both ends of the floor where Lowry will get a bit overeager, forcing a pass that really isn’t there, forcing the action off the dribble when nothing is there, or picking up silly perimeter touch fouls on the defensive end. These issues don’t appear to be crippling in the case of Lowry, but decision making issues have cropped up from time to time. As Lowry matures as a floor general, he will have to learn how to reign in his own attacking nature a bit better.

There are also size issues with Lowry. While he supposedly grew an inch between his freshman and sophomore seasons and is now listed at a respectable 6’1, he doesn’t appear to be quite that tall. Lowry’s lack of size really hurts him right now, as he isn’t an outside threat and defenders are free to sag off and focus on altering his finishes at the rim. Proving himself as a jump shooter changes everything, but if Lowry measures in under 6’0, his stock could take a bit of a hit.

Lowry tore his ACL headed into his freshman season at Villanova, but made a near-miraculous midseason return, ending up as the catalyst for the Wildcats’ sweet 16 run. NBA teams will certainly do their homework on the injury, though Lowry’s quick recovery would seem to indicate that there isn’t much to be concerned about.

A certain buzz had developed around Lowry throughout the season, to the point where another big NCAA Tournament performance may have pushed his stock into the lottery. Unfortunately, just the opposite happened. Lowry shot the ball poorly, forced the issue offensively, and didn’t come through in clutch situations. Essentially, we are talking about the major question marks scouts have about his game coming to the forefront in the most important moments of the season. While Lowry’s NCAA Tournament performance doesn’t come close to erasing an outstanding sophomore season, it would be a very disappointing way for Lowry to end his college career, and Lowry may have to re-prove himself a bit in competitive situations.


Competition
Lowry returned quickly from an ACL tear before his freshman season, sparking Villanova to a nice run in the NCAA Tournament. Lowry scored 15 points in the second round win against Florida, and followed that up with a huge 18 point performance in a near-upset of North Carolina in the Sweet 16. On the season, Lowry averaged 7.5 pts, 3.2 reb, 2.0 ast and 1.3 stl in 23.5 mpg, shooting 42.1% from the floor, 63.5% from the line, and 22.7% from beyond the arc.

As a sophomore, Lowry emerged as Villanova's primary ballhandler and defensive catalyst. While flashes of scoring prowess were seen, his main role on the offensive end was to complement prolific seniors Randy Foye and Allan Ray. A subpar NCAA Tournament performance put a damper on what was a very impressive overall season. He averaged 11 pts, 4.3 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.1 to, and 2.3 stl in 29.3 minutes, while shooting 46.6% from the floor, 78.6% from the line, and 44.4% from beyond the arc.

Outlook
Kyle Lowry will have a very difficult choice to make on whether or not to stay in the 2006 NBA Draft. This draft is definitely light on point guards, and Lowry has a very good chance to get into the late first round, if not higher. He was one of the top defensive players in the nation this past season, and Villanova didn't truly emerge as a national power until Lowry began contributing. At the same time, Lowry has a lot to prove. His role within the Villanova system was a complementary one, and he has never been relied upon to shoulder the load for his team. Combined, his lack of size and shaky outside shot are big issues. Lowry has a lot to gain by heading back to Villanova for his junior season, but the lure of a spot in the first round may be too much for him to pass up.

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