Kyle Lowry Could Make Toronto An NBA Finals Dark Horse

By just about any measure, the last three seasons have been the best time to root for the Toronto Raptors in their 20-year history. The Vince Carter era was thrilling but brief, and Chris Bosh’s dinos never quite realized their potential. Since 2013-14, however, the Raptors’ winning percentage has hovered around 60 percent, and their efficiency differential has been roughly 3.5 points per 100 possessions — numbers that those previous runs only approached in spurts.For all that success, however, Toronto has had trouble making any kind of dent come playoff time. As my ESPN colleague Zach Lowe wrote about Tuesday, each of the team’s past two postseasons ended with a first-round exit, and although the Raptors were upset both times — implying they had the talent to potentially go further — 49-win teams don’t typically vie for NBA championships anyway.1There are rare exceptions, but even conditional on making it past the first round of the playoffs, only 13 percent of teams that won 48 to 50 games in a season went on to the NBA Finals. If this season’s version of the club is basically the same, expecting different results would be irrational.These Raptors, however, have a secret weapon that their predecessors lacked: skinny Kyle Lowry.Technically speaking, this is Lowry’s fourth season with Toronto; he even logged the second-most minutes of any Raptor during the failed playoff runs of 2014 and 2015. But that version of Lowry was — how can we say it? — less svelte, and far less productive. By Box Plus/Minus (BPM), Lowry’s 2014-15 season was the worst he’d had in four years. This season, though, Lowry profiles like a top-five player according to the advanced metrics. And his sudden improvement could finally give Toronto the star power necessary to truly compete for a championship.Lowry’s evolving gameBefore this season, Lowry appeared to be on an evolutionary arc many players go through, trading a higher usage rate for less efficient scoring. In his rise as one of the game’s best guards, he’d once ranked in at least the 70th percentile of NBA players in both true shooting percentage and usage. That isn’t an easy thing to do. But last season, Lowry seemed to have surpassed the workload at which he could maintain a reasonable level of efficiency — a situation exacerbated by the banged-up state he found himself in as the season progressed. As a result, his offensive numbers dipped: He settled for more midrange shots and drew fewer fouls; he ran the pick-and-roll less often (and less efficiently); and over the course of the season, he struggled with his jump shot in a way he hadn’t for years.Although Lowry was pretty clearly not being himself, the Raptors won the Atlantic Division and locked up the No. 4 seed in the East. But the team was also unceremoniously swept by Washington, a series in which Lowry kept a high usage but saw his efficiency completely collapse. This seemed like a bad sign.Perhaps even more troubling, it was getting harder to find evidence that Lowry — a player with a good two-way reputation — was still among the league’s best defensive guards. Going into last season, he’d ranked up around the 80th percentile of NBA guards in defensive BPM over his career — a ranking corroborated by play-by-play plus/minus metrics and tracking data from Synergy Sports Technology — numbers underpinned by smart, bruising pick-and-roll defense. But in 2014-15, Lowry’s defensive indicators offered mixed messages. Although he still gave the Raptors’ defense a boost while on the floor, the team was also significantly worse defensively than it had been the previous season, and Lowry often looked slow, clunky and, at times, indifferent when trying to fight through ball screens. So this season should be encouraging for Raptors fans, at least by this metric. But after years of watching Chris Paul-led teams underachieve in the playoffs, it’s fair to ask whether this algorithm oversells the title chances for a point guard-driven squad. And as it happens, controlling for the entire skill set of a team’s best player, we found a slight tendency for teams led by players with a lot of value tied up in passing to perform worse in the postseason than we’d expect from their BPM. This could be due to any number of causes — from defenses keying in on passing patterns in a long playoff series to the way a playmaker’s value is only maximized when complemented by other skills (or perhaps it’s just random noise) — but it’s one (albeit minor) reason to consider lowering expectations for Lowry.Except that this season, Lowry’s game has been extremely well-rounded — he ranks in at least the 78th percentile of all NBA players in scoring efficiency, possession usage, assist rate and defensive BPM. Historically, teams whose best players excel in the first and last of those categories tend to exceed expectations in the playoffs at a rate far greater than any penalty that’s levied against passers.Of course, all of this presumes that Lowry’s overhauled game is legit. He’s currently 29 years old, an age at which NBA players are typically already on the downside of their careers, not metamorphosing into championship-caliber stars. Also, there was little in Lowry’s preseason CARMELO projection (our statistical crystal ball for NBA careers) to suggest an imminent breakout, aside from the late-blooming presence of Steve Nash on the fringe of his comparables list. An optimistic look at his strongest CARMELO comps suggested that he might pull a Rod Strickland and stay productive into his mid-30s; a less rosy one saw the possibility of flaming out far sooner, like Michael Adams and Derek Harper. So it’s entirely possible that Lowry will regress toward his previous career norms in the season’s second half.But given the particulars of Lowry’s skill set, and the ways in which he’s corrected his deficiencies of a season ago, it’s also very possible that if his caloric intake doesn’t regress, neither will his output.The question of whether Lowry’s teammates are good enough to support a championship run is still very much open. And even if they are, Lowry may have timed his improvement poorly, elevating his play during a season with two abnormally dominant teams that are soaking up all the league’s title odds. But Lowry’s sudden upgrade to the NBA’s elite class of players gives the Raptors a superstar the likes of which they’ve never had before. At the very least, they now possess a crucial element that was missing from the team’s recent string of good-but-not-good-enough campaigns. The new, slimmed-down version of Lowry has been quicker afoot and more focused in his pursuit of ballhandlers around and through screens, forcing more turnovers and fouling less as a result.2015-16: It’s likely no coincidence that Toronto’s opponents are scoring at a rate of nearly 4 fewer points per 100 possessions with Lowry on the court than they did a season ago. In fact, Lowry’s rehabilitation has been so complete that the Raptors now rank among the league’s top 10 teams at both ends of the floor and he has risen to full-blown MVP candidate status.You’re only as good as your best playerIt’s no secret that there’s a distinct relationship between a team’s championship probability and the quality of its best player, but it takes a truly exceptional player to make a run at a title. In the past, Lowry hasn’t been good enough to move that needle, but this season’s version is inching into the territory where small individual improvements can drastically upgrade a team’s chances of winning a championship.We’d expect a team being led by Lowry at his previous career-high BPM of +5.9 to win the title about 5 percent of the time; at this season’s +7.2 mark, those odds are doubled, to 10 percent. (Not even Carter in his prime led Toronto with a BPM so high.) Add in a decent supporting cast — and it’s debatable as to whether Toronto has one of those, particularly with DeMarre Carroll on ice, but let’s entertain the notion anyway — and suddenly the idea of a championship parade down Bay Street doesn’t seem quite so pie-in-the-sky. This season, Lowry has made course corrections at both ends of the floor. Although his usage continues to grow, his scoring efficiency has bounced back, in part because of smarter shot selection. He’s once again devoting fewer shots to the midrange, allowing his rates of taking threes and drawing fouls to return to their historical norms, and he’s been faster and more aggressive in the transition game as well. On defense, you can really see the effects of Lowry’s offseason weight loss. Last season, Lowry frequently failed when trying to use his strength to fight through screens (both on the ball and off), ceded too many easy buckets on pick-and-rolls and was generally slow to recover when he guessed wrong or his gambles didn’t pay off.2014-15: read more

Twoyearold falls into pool and drowns in Oceanside

first_img Posted: June 22, 2019 June 22, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter Updated: 4:52 PM Two-year-old falls into pool and drowns in Oceansidecenter_img OCEANSIDE (KUSI) – A 2-year-old girl drowned in a backyard pool today, police said.A witness told Oceanside police the girl fell into the pool in the 1800 block of Morena Street sometime Saturday. Family members pulled the child from the pool and began CPR until police and paramedics arrived.She was rushed to a hospital, where she died as a result of drowning. KUSI Newsroom KUSI Newsroom, last_img

5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Wednesday May 1 2019

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below are 5 things to do in Wilmington on Wednesday, May 1, 2019:#1) 3rd Annual Wilmington Special Olympics School Day GamesThe Wilmington and Burlington communities are invited to fill the stands of Wilmington High School Athletic Complex from 9am-1pm for Wilmington’s 3rd Annual Unified School Day Games. This joyful event will feature students from the Wilmington and Burlington school districts in a Unified Sports event – which allows for both students with and without intellectual disabilities to participate side by side in a truly inclusive setting.#2) DEADLINE: Write A Thank You Note To Mrs. FenneyAfter nearly 47 years of teaching in the Wilmington Public School system, Joan (Walsh) Feeney will be retiring in June.Some of her co-workers are looking for comments, short notes or an update from students and families from the past 47 years.If you have a quick note, memory, or an update to share with Ms. Walsh/Feeney, please email either Michelle.LeVesque@wpsk12.com or Lisa.Murphy@wps12k.com  by May 1, 2019. Please put Joan Feeney in the subject line of the email. All of these stories and notes will be put into a keepsake journal for Ms. Walsh/Feeney.Please spread the word, but DO NOT share this info with Ms. Walsh/Feeney.#3) Wilmington Yardwaste Center OpenThe Wilmington Yardwaste Center on Old Main Street will be open from 8am to 2pm during selected dates for the drop-off of leaves and brush.Residents will need to purchase a punch-card for $15 in order to enter the yardwaste center. Punch-cards will be available for purchase through the Collector’s Office at Town Hall and will allow up to 5 vehicle trips to the yardwaste center per card. NO GRASS CLIPPINGS OR STUMPS WILL BE ACCEPTED. Commercial vehicles will not be allowed. Make sure to bring photo identification to show you are a Wilmington resident.#4) Wilmington Conservation Commission MeetingThe Wilmington Conservation Commission meets at 7pm in Town Hall’s Room 9. Read the agenda HERE.#5) Wilmington High School’s School Advisory Council MeetingThe Wilmington High School’s School Advisory Council meets from 3:15pm to 4:15pm in the High School’s Main Office Conference Room. Read the agenda HERE.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Related5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Monday, August 19, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Friday, August 23, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Saturday, September 7In “5 Things To Do Today”last_img read more

VW would sell assets to repay loan if no other way available

first_imgVolkswagen has told banks supplying a 20 billion euro ($21.1 billion) credit line that it would sell assets if it finds no other way of repaying the one-year loan, two people familiar with the matter said.Europe’s largest carmaker is under pressure to strengthen its finances as it is expected to have to pay out tens of billions of Euros to cover fines, lawsuits and vehicle refits after it admitted to cheating US diesel emissions tests and falsifying carbon dioxide emissions.The biggest corporate scandal in the German company’s 78-year history has forced out its long-time CEO, wiped billions of Euros off its market value and hammered its bonds, making it much more expensive for the company to borrow through its traditionally-preferred route of the debt market.VW secured the 20 billion Euro bridging loan from 13 banks this week and is planning to refinance it by issuing bonds over the next couple of months, the sources said.Under the terms, VW assured the lenders it would sell or list assets worth up to significantly more than 20 billion Euros if it fails to find other sources of money, the people said.Volkswagen declined to comment.”No specific assets have been discussed,” one of the people said, while another person said a potential emergency rights issue was also an option.Investment bankers are pitching ideas to Volkswagen on potential ways to raise money, though decisions are unlikely before more clarity on the scope of penalty payments and recall costs have emerged, the people said.Listings of divisions such as Audi, Porsche or its truck business – which is being carved out now – seem unlikely, but the non-truck parts of VW’s MAN subsidiary are expected to be at the top of the list of potential divestments, the people said.The MAN power engineering operations, whose products include ship engines, mini power plants, special gear units, propulsion components and testing systems, may be valued at 4-5 billion Euros in a potential deal, the people said.The division accounted for all of MAN’s 101 million Euro nine-month operating group profit and for more than a quarter of its 9.98 billion in sales.”Volkswagen may also consider divesting luxury car brands Bentley and Lamborghini or motor bike brand Ducati, although these units don’t really move the needle,” one of the sources said.Separately, VW said the number of cars whose carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption have been understated may turn out to be smaller than the 800,000 announced last month. VW has said it expects costs of at least 2 billion Euros from the issue.Investigations into the circumstances of the manipulations and number of affected vehicles have not been concluded yet, “but many CO2 levels have in the meantime turned out to be quite accurately measured,” a spokesman said.VW’s Skoda subsidiary said on Thursday initial suspicions that the Czech brand was also affected by the CO2 malfeasance have turned out to be wrong.Almost 500 lawsuits have been filed in the United States against VW, Audi and Porsche since the emissions scandal became public on 18 September, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasters NDR and WDR said on Thursday, without citing the source of the information.last_img read more