Will Kyle Lowry be MVP? No. Should he at the very least be included in the race? Absolutely!
MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. It’s not called the best player of the year award. If it was LeBron James would be eligible to win every season. Without LeBron James, the Cavs would still likely be a playoff team. They have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love who often feel underused playing with LeBron. Plus, they have some nice role players. Without Lowry, the Raptors don’t look like a playoff team.
DeMar DeRozan is important to the Raptors as well. His scoring at times is critical to the Raptors success, but the Raptors can function with Norman Powell in instead of DeRozan. Without Kyle Lowry, it’s confusing who is running the offense because at times the offense seems non-existent.
The Raptors got a talent infusion at the deadline with Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. However, without Lowry, they have ranked 28th in offensive rating and 19th in net rating. Yes, the defense has been top five, but the Raptors are struggling to move the ball or score the ball without Lowry. The Raptors weren’t masters of moving the ball with Kyle Lowry, but he is clearly the best playmaker on the team. If you put that together with his shooting and defense he’s clearly the most important player on the team. He has developed into the best two-way
point guard in the East. The Raptors do have three other point guards on the team.
Cory Joseph has been the starting point guard with Lowry out. Joseph isn’t a great playmaker. He’s not a good defender. And is a streaky shooter. What he is good at is finding his way to a high percentage shot in critical situations. Cory Joseph has the clutch factor, but has no business starting in the NBA.
Delon Wright has only played in 12 games this season. Yes, he was hurt, but to expect him to lead a playoff offense is insane. We have seen him bring energy and tough defense in about half those games, but has disappeared in the other half. You may like his potential, but when he’s passing up good looks he’s not helping the team.
Fred VanVleet isn’t the answer to the Raptors point guard issues with Lowry out. At his best, he’s felt like a neutral player for the Raptors which isn’t a bad thing for an undrafted rookie. He had a game against the Heat where he only shot 1 of 10 from the field, but he played hard and took a lot of contact.
Kyle Lowry is currently a star in the NBA and there’s a massive talent gap between him Joseph, Wright, or VanVleet. If Lowry can come back at 100% and bring that offensive pop back to the Raptors with the added defense Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker have brought, the Raptors will be contenders. If not the Raptors will be in serious trouble. Kyle Lowry makes this team work and because of that, he deserves to be in the MVP race.