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Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry Has a Lot to Prove Next Season

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | This time last year, Kyle Lowry arrived in Toronto with a ton of fanfare and was handed the starting point guard position.

"We have a young, talented point guard is just starting to come into his prime," Bryan Colangelo raved during Lowry's introductory press conference. "He has performed at a top 10 level in the point guard category the past couple of years. We feel that given an opportunity, and given the chance to take over a team, and given the keys so to speak, he's got a chance to continue to grow in that position and continue to develop into an elite point guard."

However, after an injury-plagued season that saw him butt heads with his head coach, Lowry's future in Toronto is very much in doubt.

After being handed the keys to the car last summer, Lowry promptly crashed the car.

The good news for Lowry is that once again the starting position is gift-wrapped for him. However, unlike last year when fan-favorite Jose Calderon was lurking, Toronto has brought in a young point guard in DJ Augustin with 146 career NBA starts to be the backup point guard.

Augustin averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 assists his last season as a full-time starter, so it's clear Toronto is covered with a second point guard who can step up and play heavy minutes if Lowry falters.

What makes things interesting is that this is a contract year for Lowry. Over his seven years in the NBA, he has played for a wide range of coaches but has yet to stick with any NBA team for more than three seasons. His inability to hold on to a starting spot or stay in the good graces of a head coach is something that will scare teams off next summer and could cost him a lot of money.

On top of that, Lowry hasn't shown an ability to post consistent stats. Through his first 427 games in the NBA, Lowry has averaged 10.6 points, 5.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Nothing flashy.

Lowry's best season came during the strike-shortened season when he averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds.

The past three seasons, he has averaged six assists and change (6.4 last year, 6.6 the previous year and 6.7 three years ago). A starting point guard who doesn't average at least seven assists per game isn't impressive, and the fact his assist average has slowly declined the past three seasons is a concern.

Luckily for Lowry, he has a chance this season to play big minutes and compete on a team poised to take a big step forward. The ball's in his court and if he capitalizes, he will be poised to cash in next summer.

But, if he falters again, it will cost him a lot of money next summer when he inks his next contract.

Ryan McNeill lives in Toronto and has been covering the Toronto Raptors since the 2006-07 season. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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