SLAM Top 50: Kyle Lowry, No. 21

According to IMDB, Seinfeld is a look into “the continuing misadventures of neurotic New York stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York friends.”

The show about nothing, which also features the characters Elaine Benes, George Costanza and Kramer, lasted nine seasons and because of classic episodes like, “The Contest,” “The Opposite,” “The Junior Mint,” “The Old Man,” “The Burning,” “The Bubble Boy” and “The Summer of George.” It went on to be known as possibly the best and most popular show in the history of television.

Even now, almost 20 years after the controversial series finale aired, the iconic sitcom centered on the minutiae of daily life is still in syndication, sometimes airing twice a day on major networks.

With that kind of vice grip on pop culture, you’d think that the show was an instant hit for NBC when the first pilot, “The Seinfeld Chronicles,” ran in 1989.

You’d be wrong.

In fact, the show had a very difficult time finding an audience. The show was always genius, but with no one watching, the tree falling in the forest philosophical thought experiment applied.

But the big wigs at 30 Rock believed in it. So they gave the show the two things television shows these days rarely get: time and opportunity.

And it paid off.

After tinkering with the show’s timeslot and letting it build an organic fan base, NBC moved the show to “Must See TV” Thursdays to replace Cheers midway through its fourth season and the show finally achieved escape velocity.

According to physics, escape velocity is the minimum speed an object must have in order to escape the gravitational field of the earth without ever falling back.

And that’s where the show belonged, up in the upper strata of the TV universe, imposing its “yada, yada, yada” sensibilities upon the rest of the world.

Kyle Lowry’s trajectory from journeyman floor general to NBA star has an eerily similar path as Seinfeld.

After he was drafted No. 24 in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, based on his reputation for being a pitbull and full of the grit and determination so often associated with his hometown Philadelphia, Lowry faltered, failing to gain purchase as a point guard on the next level.

So after two seasons with Memphis, he was shipped off to the Houston Rockets, then back to Memphis the following year, then back to Houston again where he was finally given an opportunity to shine. Not surprisingly, he started to show signs of the franchise player that he could become. During those three years in Space City, he improved each year, going from 9.1 ppg to 13.5 ppg to 14.3 ppg. His assist numbers improved, too, going from 4.5 dimes per contest to just over 6 per outing.

But then came Toronto, which was his move to “Must See TV.”

Time and opportunity.

After toiling away in virtual anonymity for seven seasons, The 6 embraced Lowry like he was Drake’s long-lost brother.

In the four years that he’s been there, he’s revitalized a basketball town that was still mourning the loss of Vince “Air Canada” Carter and made them bonafide contenders again.

He made them believe, again. And all it took was time and opportunity.

Looking ahead to his 11th season in the L, Lowry is looking to build on last year, when he averaged a career-high 21.2 ppg, when he and DeMar DeRozan came within two victories of the NBA Finals, when he showed the world that he could compete against Cleveland’s Goliath, LeBron James, when he proved that he deserved to be a starter on the All-Star team for two straight years, when he left no doubt about why he was selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

And while he and the Raptors are now “Must See TV,” he still has a lot to prove. He still has to elevate his leadership so that he’s on par with the other elite point guards. He has to stay healthy, he has to stay in shape, he has to stay fearless, and he has to stay poised when things get rough.

He knows what winning feels like now that he has an Olympic Gold medal with Team USA, so he has to find a way to lead his team deep into the Playoffs, again, where they can compete for a chance to bring that gold Larry O’Brien trophy to the basketball crazed fans in The 6.

If he can take another step this year, as most of us at the SLAM Dome know that he can, he’ll achieve his own escape velocity and get back to draining threes, bullying his way into the lane and, of course, trolling DeMar any and every chance he gets.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


2009: NR
2010: NR
2011: NR
2012: NR
2013: NR
2014: 34
2015: 37
2016: 21

SLAM Top 50 Players 2016
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Ben Simmons 76ers SF 9
49 D’Angelo Russell Lakers PG 12
48 Derrick Favors Jazz PF 12
47 Devin Booker Suns SG 8
46 Chris Bosh Heat PF 11
45 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 7
44 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
43 Serge Ibaka Magic PF 10
42 CJ McCollum Blazers SG 6
41 Pau Gasol Spurs PF 9
40 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 9
39 Kevin Love Cavs PF 8
38 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 7
37 Kristaps Porzingis Knicks PF 6
36 Kemba Walker Hornets PG 10
35 Dwight Howard Hawks C 8
34 Hassan Whiteside Heat C 7
33 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 8
32 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 9
31 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
30 Dwyane Wade Bulls SG 5
29 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 5
28 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
27 Al Horford Celtics C 5
26 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 6
25 Isaiah Thomas Celtics PG 8
24 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 4
23 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 4
22 Andre Drummond Pistons C 3
21 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 7

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

Follow the entire SLAM Top 50 countdown.