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NBA Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry Must Stay In A Toronto Raptors Uniform

Kyle Lowry

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Toronto Raptors fans are five days away from a critical moment in their team’s history. The “should he stay or should he go” question revolving around point-guard Kyle Lowry has been front and center throughout Toronto’s ascendance in the NBA‘s power rankings.

Speaking of history, a little Lowry 101 is a class his naysayers need to enrol in. The former lead dog of the Villanova Wildcats was the 24th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, chosen 17 picks after his collegiate backcourt running-mate and the more touted prospect at the time, Randy Foye. That’s now proven to be highway-robbery type value.

Cutting team executives some slack might be in order however, as Toronto wasn’t the only team who whiffed that night. A total of 19 picks made in that first round are currently seeking employment outside the NBA, an astonishing number when you add the fact that 15 of those players were picked ahead of Lowry, not to mention 13 ahead of Rajon Rondo. It’s safe to assume that the punch was spiked with something fierce during the pre-draft party the night before.

Lowry has a legendary reputation at the University of Villanova, known for his tough-as-nails bulldog attitude and penchant to dive for every loose ball with a motor that never quit. It’s been a long time coming, but when you review his NBA career, you gain an understanding as to why Lowry, who is now in his eighth season, is finally becoming one of the elite players in game today.

During his two and a half year tour with the Memphis Grizzlies, Lowry never managed to surpass the 26 minute per game mark, all the while playing second-fiddle to organization favorite Mike Conley. It wasn’t until his final two seasons in Texas that his status around the league was trending in the direction of his big- time upside. He was on the verge of becoming that floor general while still having to fend off another rising star Goran Dragic in the process – the one who should now be referred to as Dragic Johnson.

Lowry’s time in a Raptors’ uniform has been a roller coaster to say the least, with accusations of selfish play and being disengaged at times. Well, the Villanova version of this tenacious point guard has come home to roost. To all Lowry disbelievers and those who are concerned that his contract status is his only motivation, I urge you to go back into the film room and witness him driving to the basket without fear, taking of the smart shot, and involving everyone in the offense while being as focused and selfless as I have ever seen him on a nightly basis.

His free agent status as of season’s end has Toronto backed into a corner. A gigantic decision now faces new GM Masai Ujiri. The Philly native has stated he does not wish to discuss his contract until after the season to further add complications, but with the trade deadline looming, this issue may very well have to be forced. Either you make him an offer he can’t refuse, or roll the dice and concentrate on the team’s playoff push.

His standard stat line is filled with career-highs in minutes, points, assists, steals and 3PT %. His advanced stats back that up as well. Lowry’s win-shares are at a 8.1, and his win-shares per 48 minutes land at a mark of .206, which groups him into the upper echelon with a ranking of sixth and 10th respectively. The NBA all-star selection committee should be ashamed of themselves.

He is not Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady or Chris Bosh – one just has to look at Lowry contending for the league lead in charges drawn to come to that conclusion. However, it also speaks volumes to the kind of player he is. He’s a gamer that actually might stick around for the long haul.

When Ujiri was able to convince the New York Knicks to take on franchise hostage-holder Andrea Bargnani, otherwise known as “Baby Dirk,” it was a revelation. The new boss endeared himself to Raptors nation from the very beginning. To be fair, “Baby Dirk” was doomed from the very start. However, the new GM is now on the clock to truly show what he’s made of.

Mike Holian is a Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @TheMikeLevel, “Like”  him on Facebook and add him to your  Google network.