Heat betting on Kyle Lowry bounce-back season: Why point guard's return to All-Star form is East's biggest unknown
Heat betting on Kyle Lowry bounce-back season: Why point guard's return to All-Star form is East's biggest unknown
Why Kyle Lowry's return to All-Star form is East's biggest unknown

Miami's season didn't get off to the best start.

Despite being close to full strength, the Heat fell in their season opener to a Bulls team that was without one of their All-Stars and is projected to be in Play-In territory. Jimmy Butler put up his usual numbers, but both Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry struggled offensively, combining to shoot 6-for-22 from the field.

That will likely prove to be a blip on the radar for Adebayo, a 25-year-old one-time All-Star who is still chipping away at his sky-high potential.

As for Lowry? Time will tell, but the answer could shape both Miami's season and the Eastern Conference title race.


Why Kyle Lowry's return to All-Star form is East's biggest unknown

Lowry's days of being an All-Star are probably over at this stage. In addition to being in the twilight of his career and two seasons removed from his last All-Star selection, he plays in an Eastern Conference that has no shortage of talent at his position.

Still, getting close to that form would be a big deal for the Heat.

At his best, Lowry is a knockdown shooter, both off the catch and off the dribble. Few are as aggressive as he is in the open court. He's a heady player who rarely makes mistakes.

He's (somehow) never made an All-Defensive team, but he's basically as pesky as it gets on that end of the court. He's elite at drawing charges and strong enough to hold his own against most players.

We caught glimpses of all that in his first season with the Heat. He canned 37.7 percent of his 3-point attempts, a mark slightly above his career average. The Heat got out a lot more in transition when he was on the court. He was among the league leaders in charges drawn despite missing 19 games.

Lowry even played his best basketball of the season down the final stretch. It's easy to forget that because a hamstring kept him out of eight games in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, and he was a shell of himself in the games he did play.

Kyle Lowry's 2021-22 season stats
First 53 games 12.6 7.8 4.7 41.6 34.7
Last 10 games 17.4 6.0 3.4 56.2 50.7
Playoffs 7.8 4.7 3.6 29.1 24.1

Kostya Medvedovsky's DARKO model shows Lowry in a pretty clear decline at this point in his career, which is to be expected for an undersized point guard entering his late 30s. FiveThirtyEight's model is slightly more optimistic, painting him out to be a key role player this season and, more importantly, better than he was last season.

Again, that would be a big deal to the Heat. Miami has options at the guard position, but nobody impacts the game quite like Lowry does.

Tyler Herro is a superior scorer, but he's neither the passer nor defender that Lowry is. Victor Oladipo checks some of the important boxes, but injuries continue to be an issue. Gabe Vincent has proven to be another great find for the Heat, but being a full-time starter would be a big jump for him.

There's also the matter of how Lowry's skill set complements Butler and Adebayo, something Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra alluded to ahead of the season. Up and down as he was last season, the numbers point to the Heat being at their best with the three of them on the court.

For the Heat to be at the same level of the Bucks, Celtics and 76ers, they're going to need their three best players to be on the same page.

Kyle Lowry's contract details

There's another reason all of this matters: Miami has a lot invested in Lowry.

As part of the trade with the Raptors, the Heat signed Lowry to a three-year, $85 million contract, giving him the third-highest salary on the team after Butler and Adebayo.

Lowry's contract does not include any options, so he'll be an unrestricted free agent following the 2023-24 season.

Kyle Lowry's contract details
  2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Kyle Lowry $28,333,334 $29,682,540 UFA

Adebayo being in his mid-20s widens Miami's window a bit, but there is pressure to make the most out of Butler's prime.

Given his age and how much money he's owed, it's hard to imagine Lowry having much trade value, so the Heat can't afford for him to not be a big difference-maker.

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