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Old 05-01-2014, 11:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Raptors Kyle Lowry, the art of drawing offensive fouls

This is from last week, but I didn't see it posted...


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Have you ever been driving on the highway and thought you had an open lane to get to your destination faster, only to see your decision fail because of a traffic jam?

On the basketball court, that jam is Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

For players who believe they've set the best screen or for those looking to seize a wide-open lane to the basket, Lowry is usually the one putting a stop to those potential opportunities. That was the case twice in Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets—first, when Lowry drew a charge on Mason Plumlee in the first quarter.
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In addition, Lowry was second this season in charges taken with 36, right behind Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (39). With Lowry leading the way defensively on the perimeter for the Raptors this season, the team improved to 10th in defensive rating, compared to 20th in 2012-13.

"He's tough as nails mentally and physically," an NBA scout said. "Lowry is strong, has great lateral movement and fearless—great assets for a great defender. He doesn't back down from anyone and loves a challenge."

Lowry's defensive accomplishments this season have contributed to him being one of the most attractive free agents looking ahead to the summer. Lowry is hoping to get a four-year deal with a starting rate of $12 million as a free agent, according to one source. Returning to the Raptors is a suitable option for Lowry because they offer a great fit and supporting cast, and they have his Bird rights. Toronto fans adore the 28-year-old, including the team's TV color commentator, Jack Armstrong.

"(Lowry is) just off the charts," he said during a recent broadcast. "He's in every play because he just competes."

So how has Lowry become one of the game's best defensive point guards? To get an inside look at how he's developed his unique skill, Bleacher Report spoke with Lowry and several people who have assisted and observed him as he's become a top defender in the league.



Defensive Development

Lowry has always been "tough, relentless and gritty," as he defines his defense. That was the main reason that the Memphis Grizzlies selected him with the 24th pick in the 2006 NBA draft. But his hard-nosed mentality was also somewhat of a hindrance in his first few years in the league, as he struggled to make his mark.
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"If you ask him, he'll admit that his stubbornness and his toughness was negative," his longtime trainer Joe Abunassar said. "Now he's more open and doesn't argue about everything."

After several injuries slowed him down in 2012-13—a sports hernia that required surgery in May 2012, and then a strained abductor and lower-back issues during the season—he was thinking big entering last summer. As Abunassar put it, "He wanted to be an All-Star this year. Kyle made the commitment to take it to another level—his attention to detail."

That included starting his first ever all-summer-long cardio plan to keep his weight down—and studying game film a lot more closely than he had in previous years.

"I really wanted to get to the playoffs," Lowry said. "I really wanted to do everything I could possibly do to get to this point, and prove the right choices were made by trading for me and keeping me, and not trading me back somewhere else. I had an off year last year and I wanted to prove that it was just one little hiccup in the road; it wasn't who I was."

The NBA scout has also noticed Lowry's maturation. Think advanced knowledge mixed in with an already natural defensive instinct—that paints a scary picture.

"In order for a guy to defend that well, he has to study his opponents. Every night in this league, guards have their work cut out for them," the scout said. "He's really worked on his game, he's in much better condition and plays with a chip on his shoulder."

Lowry has also continued his upward track on the defensive end by working with NBA veteran Chauncey Billups, who has a similar build to Lowry, and former player Tyronn Lue, who's now the defensive assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Those are the kind of guys that Kyle surrounds himself with in the offseason, which helps him out a lot," Abunassar said.
Raptors Guard Kyle Lowry's Specialty: The Art of Drawing Offensive Fouls | Bleacher Report
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