I've been reading this blog for the past four years. I thought it was about time I got myself an account. I'm a Rocket's fan living in Los Angeles, hoping that we'll beat an L.A. team at least once this year. Anyways, being out here, Chris Paul is always on the tube and I watch whenever I can. As much as I love what's going on this year with Kyle Lowry's alarmingly consistent near triple-double stat line, he's still not Chris Paul. While I as much as any one of you wish this wasn't the case, the stats, and the always less credible eye test confirm this all too frustrating notion.Major Statistical Categories:
Chris Paul: 18.0 ppg, 8.4 APG, 3.0 REB, 2.8 STL, 0.0 BLK, 2.2 TOS, 0.520 FG%, 0.455 3P%
Kyle Lowry: 16.5 ppg, 8.6 APG, 6.6 REB, 2.1 STL, 0.4 BLK, 3.6 TOS, 0.427 FG%, 0.406 3P%
The difference in TOS jumps off the page. Paul and Lowry average nearly the same amount of minutes and assists and their usage rates are also similar (Lowry 23.1%, Paul 21.7%), yet Lowry is still averaging more than a turnover per game. Lowry dominates the ball, but no point guard in the league dominates the ball more than Chris Paul. One would think a point guard that always has the ball in his hands is the more turnover prone, which is simply not the case here. While there is an argument to be made for Kyle Lowry's high turnover average having a lot to due with Samuel Dalembert's delayed acclamation to the Rocket's offense and his terrible hands (can someone check the numbers on how many times one of Kyle's turnovers have been due to Sam Dalembert fumbling one of his passes?), the same argument could be used on Paul. Chris Paul is playing with 12 new players, yet his turnover rate is much lower.
The shooting percentages speak for themselves. Paul shoots the same amount but more efficiently. Their true shooting percentages also reflect this (Lowry .570% vs. Paul .600%). The gap will widen further once Kyle stops nailing his fourth quarter, contested three's so consistently (It has to stop at some point, right? Hopefully it doesn't.) Furthermore, one thing that I've observed from watching Chris Paul is that his assist ratio and high field goal percentages are directly related to his uncanny and arguably unrivaled ability to create space. Paul uses his ability to handle the ball and his powerful lower body to create ridiculous amounts of space that not only make room for his own shot but also open up other options on the floor by causing defenders to over help. His fleecing of the Rockets defense in early January is clear evidence of this. Specifically, watch the plays at 1:40, 2:20 (!!!), 2:43, 4:24 and 5:28.
Defensively, I think these players are equal. Paul's hands might be slightly quicker, but both players are defensive stoppers on the perimeter. They also both make smart, efficient decisions on defense that don't jeopardize team defense. Whether it's contesting a shot instead of going for a block or staying in front of a defender instead of going for risky steals in the passing lanes (ahem... kevin martin...), they always seem to make decisions that help their team. Then again, Kyle Lowry's on-ball defense might be a little better due to his ability to guard the two and smaller three's. There DRtg's this season are fairly similar (Paul's 104 vs. Lowry's 101).
One thing Kyle Lowry has on Chris Paul is his ability to rebound effectively. Does anyone remember Adam Everett?To this day he's still one of my favorite Astros ever (yes, I'm serious). Adam Everett was always consistently under valued by Houston fans because he didn't make spectacular diving plays like Ozzy Smith or Omar Vizquel. It's not that Everett wasn't as good as Ozzy or Omar, it's that he never had to dive for the ball, because he anticipated where the ball was going to be so much quicker than any other shortstop and thus, made everything look way too easy for the most error prone position in baseball. Kyle Lowry rebounds like Adam Everett fields. There is no point guard in the league who is better at judging the flight path of a ball coming off of the basket than Kyle Lowry. It never looks impressive because he's always in the right place at the right time. Seriously, how many of his rebounds seem like they just kind of... come right to him. One thing I'd be interested to find out is in what ways Kyle's uncanny ability to rebound effects the overall play of the rest of the team. For example, how many of Kyle's rebounds lead directly to points on fast breaks? If there's one thing that's true about Kyle, it's that his eyes are always looking down court. When bigs like Dalembert or Hill get the ball they have to come down with it, secure it, find Kyle, give him the ball, and run back down the court. Only at that point is Kyle able to start the offense up. When another player gets the rebound, does it effect his ability to start the fast break? Has anyone ever noticed how often Kyle is frantically calling for the ball from Hill or Dalembert while simultaneously looking down the court to start up the offense? My hypothesis would be that the percentage of made baskets coming on fast breaks off of Kyle's rebounds is higher than any other player's on the team with the exception of Dragic (the dragon is Jedi-like when it comes to finishing at the rim on the break). To sum it up, Chris Paul is a great rebounder for his size; Kyle Lowry is just a great rebounder.
These guys are both great point guards and if Kyle Lowry keeps this up for the entire season, he'll most definitely have cemented his place as a the third or fourth best point guard in the league. Hopefully those ridiculous from-the-parking-lot, contested three pointers will keep falling. Looking forward to hearing what y'all's thoughts are.