Once the opposition relents for just a second, providing any time for Kyle Lowry to rip the ball away, it usually happens.
Through 20 games, Lowry has managed to steal the ball 53 times, more than anyone else in the league.
Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, Lowry is averaging 2.7 steals per game and is on pace for 200 steals, two feats that haven’t been accomplished in seven years.
Chris Paul was the last player to record more 200 steals in a season, recording 216 during the 2008-09 campaign, three years prior to being traded to the Clippers.
In the most unpredictable category in all of fantasy basketball, Lowry has provided amazing consistency, stealing the ball at least once in each of his 20 appearances on the year.
Only Lowry and Boston forward Jae Crowder have posted at least five performances with at least four steals this season, and Lowry has been held to just a single steal on three occasions this year.
Even though he stands just 6-foot tall, Lowry is providing the biggest defensive presence in Toronto. He possesses the instincts, positioning, timing and skill necessary to lull defenders into a comfort zone, then finds a way to strip the ball.
In his 10th season, Lowry has experienced a rapid ascension to the top of the league in steals. A year ago — during his first career All-Star campaign — Lowry matched his career-high with 1.6 steals per game.
The 2.7 steals he is averaging this season is more than double his career average per game.
When he isn’t swiping the ball away from an opponent, Lowry can further frustrate them with his knack for drawing offensive fouls. Eleven times this season the player Lowry is defending has been whistled for an offensive foul, tying him for ninth most in the league.
Opponents have a difficult time shooting against him, especially on the perimeter. Overall, Lowry is limiting the player he is guarding to 40.8 percent shooting from the field, about three percent below their average on the season.
Only the number drops drastically when trying to connect from beyond the arc against Lowry. The 24th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft has stifled the opposition from 3-point range, holding them to 25.3 percent shooting from downtown, 11.7 percent below their expected shooting rate.
The combination of his ability to steal the ball, plus his effectiveness guarding jump shooters has elevated Lowry atop the list among point guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, a measurement in how many points per 100 possessions a team limits the opposition.
Lowry’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus score is 2.27, meaning the Raptors surrender nearly 2.3 points fewer per 100 possessions when he is on the floor.
The only other guard in the league providing a large impact defensively for their team is Brooklyn rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, as he is posting a 2.67.
The impact he provides stretches much further than the 21 points 6.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game truly indicate.
When the Raptors have Lowry on the floor, their offensive rating is 115 and defensive rating is 99, meaning that for every 100 possessions the former Villanova star is on the floor, Toronto is piling up an additional 16 points.
There are plenty of tangible results from the defensive efforts from the 29-year-old guard, as the Raptors jumped from 19th in points per game, surrendering 100.9 a night last year, all the way to fourth this season, allowing 96.3 per game.
The improved defense is even more astonishing considering starting center Jonas Valanciunas has missed the last six games with a broken bone in his left hand.
The team is off to a 12-8 start and is chasing its third consecutive Atlanta Division crown.
A large portion of the team’s success is the fact opponents can’t dribble the ball, or shoot from long range when Lowry is on the floor.
Lowry is on pace to record 214 steals, tying him for the 35th best performance in NBA history.
Except when combining his ability to steal the ball with his lockdown defense on opponents shooting the ball, Lowry is making his case as the best perimeter defender in the game today.