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Apr 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3) dribbles the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Lowry - in focus

If there’s one player on the roster on whom the Toronto Raptors have pinned their hopes high, it’s their tiny point guard, Kyle Lowry. Is he up to the task?

Kyle has all the talent and desire one could ask for. He’s quick and fearless (as evidenced by his impressive rebounding numbers), he can pass and shoot the ball at a very high level, and he’s a more than adequate defender. So why did first the Memphis Grizzlies, then the Houston Rockets, give up on him? Lowry came to the Raps in a gift box – the price for a veteran point guard was our 2013 first-round draft pick and Gary Forbes (yes…that Gary Forbes).

Mar 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace (15) drives between Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3) and small forward Rudy Gay (22) during the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The point guard position demands a thinker; the PG calls the plays, and handles the ball more than anyone else. There seems little doubt Kyle is a bright man; perhaps as a result, he has acquired a reputation as a thorn in the side of his coach. He clashed with Houston coach Kevin McHale, and whispers from the Toronto bench indicated he was doing the same with Dwane Casey. Presumably coach and player have reached a detente, as Kyle is clearly the number one PG, and has been since Jose Calderon was exiled to Detroit. Kyle’s backups are D.J. Augustin and Dwight Buycks, neither of whom is a threat.

Kyle is hard to watch a lot of the time. He’s occasionally reckless with his ball-handling, leading to an unacceptable 2.77 assists-to-turnovers ratio. Admittedly we’ve been spoiled for years. Calderon ended the season at 4.11, second in the NBA to Chris Paul. While Kyle enjoyed his ’10-’11 season, scoring over a thousand points and shooting 37.6% from distance, he hasn’t approached those numbers since. Only once in his career has he been healthy enough to dress for every game.

What Kyle needs to do is dial himself down. He needs less flash, more Andre Miller-like simplicity. He needs to stop trying to second-guess his coach, and play the game; stop risking injury by trying to grab every rebound, and let his big men do the dirty work. When Kyle is on his game, the Raps are very tough to beat.

The word on the street is that Kyle has been working out in town all summer with his pal Rudy Gay, and both men are in top shape. Obviously this bodes well for the upcoming season. Kyle Lowry should be entering the prime of his career. He’s young enough to keep up with the kids, yet has the requisite experience to play his demanding position at a high level. He will be playing with teammates he’s used to, and likes (and is liked by) all of them, and he’s injury-free.

The stage has been set for an excellent season for Kyle Lowry. If he takes advantage of this extraordinary opportunity, he will lead the Raptors to the playoffs.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Jose Calderon Kyle Lowry Rudy Gay Toronto Raptors

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