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What does Kyle Lowry bring to the table for the Miami Heat?

Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven
Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven
Adam Taylor
EXPERT

The Miami Heat doubled down on experience this off-season, re-signing Jimmy Butler to a huge extension and acquiring Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors via sign-and-trade. Lowry's addition sees long-time Heat point guard Goran Dragic head for new pastures in Toronto, allowing Kyle Lowry to take full ownership of the Miami Heat's starting point guard role.

Earning approximately $30 million per year for the next three seasons, Lowry will be tasked with forming a formidable partnership with both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to form the Miami Heat's next big three. So, what does Lowry bring to the table? And how does it improve the Heat's chances of success?

What does Kyle Lowry bring to the table for the Miami Heat: Additional Shooting

The Miami Heat finished 11th in three-point attempts last season with 36.2 per game. However, the Heat finished 14th in three-point shots made, hitting on 12.9 per game; this led to an average of 35.8% as a team from deep - good for just 19th in the league. Beyond Duncan Robinson and (possibly) Tyler Herro, the Miami Heat lacked legitimate perimeter scorers, especially out of pick-and-roll scenarios.

Kyle Lowry's addition to the roster should go some way to alleviating those three-point struggles. The Philadelphia native ended last season shooting 39.6% from deep on 7.2 attempts per game and is a career 36.8% shooter from deep (it's worth noting that Lowry struggled from deep to begin his career).

Where Goran Dragic was judicial in his shot selection, Kyle Lowry is trigger happy. Lowry will provide the Heat with much-needed scoring gravity from the guard position. From pick-and-roll to isolation, defenders will seldom gamble on sagging off from the Heat's latest guard acquisition.

Lowry's presence will also open up the court for the likes of Duncan Robinson, who spent most of last season trying to get off heavily contested shots. Kyle Lowry's presence on the floor will not only create driving lanes for the Miami Heat's wings but also ensure their catch-and-shoot weapons have a vital few milliseconds to get into their shooting form before dealing with closing out defenders.

Beyond just his three-point shooting, Kyle Lowry can provide additional rim pressure. Due to the Miami Heat's lack of floor spacing last year, rim pressure was their bread-and-butter offense throughout the season. Adding Lowry, who is a threat when driving the lane, will open up opportunities for others around the cup, be it from lobs, dump-offs, kick-outs, swing passes, or wraparounds.

Lowry is a respectable interior finisher in his own right. Last season, Kyle Lowry shot 64% around the rim, which placed him in the 80th percentile among guards. The 35-year-old guard has developed his game to where he is a legitimate three-level scorer, yet as his mid-range attempts have risen, his rim attempts have declined. But when you average 10.7 drives per game, you're always going to get enough good looks to be a threat from close range.

What does Kyle Lowry bring to the table for the Miami Heat: Additional Playmaking

The Miami Heat tend to run the majority of their offense through Bam Adebayo, usually through their elbow sets or via short-roll creation. Adding Kyle Lowry to the equation will provide the Heat with additional unpredictability on offense.

Bam Adebayo brings the ball up the court
Bam Adebayo brings the ball up the court

Despite being the Toronto Raptors' primary offensive outlet last season, Lowry took a small step back within his offensive role. He instead looked to facilitate in hand-off situations or offer spacing as a spot-up shooter - hence the slight increase in handoff percentage (4.4% in 2019, 7.7% in 2020).

Lowry is a legitimate playmaker, averaging 6.2 assists per game for his career thus far. The 6'0'' guard facilitated for others on 31.1% of his offensive possessions throughout last season, totaling 343 assists during his 46 games.

Plays like the one above are going to unlock guys such as Robinson and Herro. It will also alleviate some of the creative burdens from Adebayo, allowing him to cause havoc off-ball with screens and/or shallow cuts around the nail.

Kyle Lowry in a Miami Heat jersey makes the team a three-headed monster in terms of on-ball creation and will remove the team's reliance on Bam Adebayo's creation around the elbows or off the short-roll. It will also mean that Jimmy Butler can utilize his strength in invested screen systems or run some more traditional pick-and-rolls with Adebayo to get some easy looks at the cup.

What does Kyle Lowry bring to the table for the Miami Heat: Increased Pace

When you finish 29th in the league for pace, it's evident you need to find a spark in transition. Enter Kyle Lowry, a guy who only knows one speed: full. Kyle Lowry's affinity for early transition threes, or drive and kick penetration, will ensure the Heat aren't the same half-court offense the league saw last year.

Transition offense accounted for 18.9% of Kyle Lowry's workload last season, with him averaged 1.11 points per possession from this play type. Lowry's ability to change gears when bringing the ball up the court ensures the defense can't build out to the ball - there's too much of a pull-up threat. Instead, defenses must first focus on taking away Lowry's three-ball, which allows for other roster members to dive right into the center of the defense.

Building out to the ball is a transition defensive concept, with the idea being that the first defender back protects the rim, the next guy the mid-range, then the three-point line. Once all defenders are back, it's up to the players to relocate to their designated assignments. However, with transition shooters, teams will always opt to take away the early three, and rightly so, as they're usually wide open.

You can see the Dallas Mavericks taking away the early three and then Kyle Lowry countering with the lob attempt in the above play. The Mavericks were caught lacking in this possession due to Lowry's threat as a pull-up shooter, especially in transition possessions.

Another way Lowry can impact pace is by his willingness to fire "pitch ahead" passes. Pushing the ball up-court as quickly as possible ensures the offense can attack a defense while it's still recovering from a missed shot or steal.

Whether Kyle Lowry is pushing the pace himself or facilitating an up-tempo offense by playing quarterback, his presence on the Miami Heat roster should signal a faster brand of basketball from the franchise in the upcoming season.

What does Kyle Lowry bring to the table for the Miami Heat: Additional Defense

Kyle Lowry plays a physical brand of defense, using his low center of gravity to get underneath his man, making every possession a tough one.

Kyle Lowry's lateral quickness makes him a prime candidate to guard perimeter shooters or pick-and-roll heavy guards. At just 6'0'', Lowry can chase guards under or over screens and use his deceptive strength to ensure any contact from the screener doesn't take him out of a play completely.

The Miami Heat now have Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker on their roster, which projects to be a robust and versatile defensive core. Lowry's ability to lock down movement and stationary scorers, coupled with his hustle, will make him a vital cog in any defensive scheme the Heat look to run this season.

Defense is notoriously hard to quantify in statistical terms, and it's better to watch the film and then assimilate the numbers after. However, I like to monitor a player's defensive intensity by looking at the hustle stats. Lowry was a pest when operating as an off-ball defender, averaging 2.1 deflections per game and recovering 50% of the loose balls he contested.

Lowry's heart and intense playstyle will fit well with the Miami Heat culture and be a big part of why they brought him to South Beach.

Conclusion

Overall, Kyle Lowry is a clear upgrade for the Miami Heat, not from a skillset standpoint, but from a fit standpoint. Lowry will help fill some of the more glaring holes from last season and has the mentality to thrive in lineups consisting of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

It remains to be seen if Lowry's presence elevates the Miami Heat to contender status. Still, one thing's for sure: the Miami Heat have improved this off-season without sacrificing any of their primary rotation players and Lowry is a big part of their immediate future.


Also read: Miami Heat Depth Chart: Predicted starting lineup for Jimmy Butler and co. after NBA free agency signings


Edited by Raunak J
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