Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan Have Been Terrible in the NBA Playoffs

Lowry is generally an underrated point guard during the regular season, but when the playoffs hit, he's flat out awful.

I hate writing articles like this, ones that point out players' shortcomings.

That's especially true when the players in question deserve more renown.

That's how things are for Toronto Raptors' All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

Lowry finished 10th this season in our nERD metric, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an otherwise average team over the course of a season. His score, by the way, was 11.5.

Among other point guards and shooting guards, Lowry ranked fifth behind Stephen Curry (26.3), Russell Westbrook (14.7), Chris Paul (14.2), and James Harden (13.2).

DeRozan (8.2) ranked eighth among guards.

And, hey, Lowry has been an All-Star starter for two years running, but he never really seems to be atop the conversation for best point guards in the NBA. DeRozan was an All-Star in 2014 and again in 2016. Same deal for him -- even with a depleted pool at shooting guard in today's NBA.

But their playoff resumes aren't helping their cases.

Different Players

Let's start with Lowry, who has four post-season appearances to his name.

The longest stint was in 2008-09 with the Houston Rockets, which spanned 13 games. Lowry, though, averaged just 19.5 minutes per contest, and that's not something we're going to focus on.

He has, though, made the playoffs three consecutive seasons, maxing out at seven games in 2013-14.

In the past three postseasons, Lowry has averaged a whopping 37.3 minutes per game in 16 games. He's averaging 17.1 points per game, which isn't awful if you care about points per game without regard to efficiency.

You can bet your bottom dollar that we care about efficiency.

Lowry has shot just 35.6% from the field in these 16 games. He's been a 28.6% three-point shooter on 6.1 attempts per game, ultimately yielding in an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 41.5%.

Let's throw in some context here.

Only four players in the 2015-16 regular season averaged at least 25 minutes per game and had an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 43.0% or worse.

Player Minutes/Gm FG Attempts/Gm eFG% Offensive Rating nERD (Rank)
Ricky Rubio 30.6 7.7 42.7 110 1.1 (69)
Kobe Bryant 28.2 16.9 41.7 95 -10.1 (146)
Kyle Lowry* 37.3 14.8 41.5 102 ---
Marcus Smart 27.3 8.7 40.5 101 -0.9 (89)
Emmanuel Mudiay 30.4 13.3 40.4 88 -13.6 (147)

And just to be clear, 147 players were qualified for a nERD rating, so Lowry's not exactly in great company when it comes to shooting efficiency.

Believe it or not -- DeRozan has been even worse.

DeRozan's three playoff seasons have yielded an average of 20.9 points per game over 16 games. And if you thought Lowry's marks were bad, just know that DeRozan is shooting 37.2% on 18.1 field goal attempts per game (38.6 minutes) in these playoff games. He's also a 28.9% three-point shooter on 2.4 attempts per game.

His Effective Field Goal Percentage? 39.1%. And that's on a Usage Rate of 28.6%, which would have tied John Wall for 19th in the regular season. You know who used that many possessions this year with so little efficiency? Nobody. Nobody had a Usage Rate of 28% or greater and an Effective Field Goal percentage worse than 40% this season.

DeRozan's marks make Lowry's playoff numbers -- 41.5% Effective Field Goal Percentage on a 24.7% Usage Rate -- look, well, never mind.

Overcoming the Odds

This may not matter as much if the Raptors were sweeping their first-round opponent.

However, in Game 5, the Raptors' win odds plummeted to 19.4% with 34 seconds left in the third quarter, but a fourth-quarter surge led them to victory and to this fun win probability graph.


And in that contest, DeRozan shot 10 of 22 from the field, for an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 50%. That'll work.

Lowry, however, was 3 of 11 for an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 31.8%, better than only Terrence Ross' 25% on 1 of 6 shooting.

Lowry did convert 7 of 8 free throw attempts, which racked up to .727 free throws per field goal attempt (his season mark was .410). DeRozan attempted .591 free throws per field goal attempt (up from .474 on the season) in Game 5.

The Raptors are getting it done for now -- albeit because of some key contributions from role players such as Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, DeMarre Carroll, and Cory Joseph -- but if Toronto wants to cash in on their 6.7% chance to win the NBA Finals, their All-Star backcourt is going to have to step it up to their regular season level and beyond.