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Toronto Raptors

Back to School: Kyle Lowry turned his greatest weakness into his greatest strength

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Kyle Lowry (Getty Images)

As the new school year approaches, we're rewinding things with Back to School Week! This week, we'll take a look back at the amateur years of some of the biggest stars to suit up for the Raptors or hail from Canada.

Kyle Lowry has turned one of his greatest weaknesses into one of his greatest strengths since the Memphis Grizzlies selected him with the 24th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

As NBADraft.net's Aran Smith wrote in 2005, the biggest concern with Lowry's game was his consistently as a long range shooter, particularly off the dribble. Though Sports Reference doesn't differentiate between catch-and-shoot and pull-up attempts, the Toronto Raptors guard made only 13 of his 40 total 3-point attempts over his two seasons at Villanova.

Those figures were so low that ESPN's Jay Bilas compared Lowry to Rajon Rondo, who was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 21st pick in the same draft.

For a slightly undersized point guard, not being a scoring threat from the perimeter would've made it difficult for Lowry to play to his strengths as a driver at the next level. The transformation didn't happen overnight, but Lowry is now one of the premier pull-up 3-point shooters in the league, a development that has helped him become as complete of a scorer as there is at the point guard position.

In 2016-17, Lowry finished behind only six players in 3-pointers made off the dribble (110), and he converted those shots at one of the highest rates (42.0 percent) in the league. He wasn't quite as accurate in 2017-18 (39.4 percent), but he made the fifth-most pull-up 3-pointers (106), trailing only Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard and James Harden.

MORE: How Lowry benefits the most from the Kawhi trade

A knockdown shooter off the dribble and a strong finisher at the rim, Lowry now has the tools to pick defenses apart in pick-and-rolls, where he does the bulk of his scoring. According to NBA.com, he ranked ranked in the 95.1 percentile in 2016-17 with an average of 1.05 points per pick-and-roll possession. He then ranked in the 72.9 percentile this past season, with 0.90 points per pick-and-roll possession.

The end result is a four-time All-Star who currently ranks behind only LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap in win shares - the number of wins a player has contributed in their NBA career - in his draft class. That's incredible value from someone who barely made it out of the first round, and Lowry's years of dominating the Eastern Conference aren't done yet.

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