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Toronto Raptors

The case for Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry's elusive All-Defensive selection

Kyle Lowry has one All-NBA selection and six All-Star selections to his name, but he has never made an All-Defensive Team.

Yes, you read that correctly - Kyle Lowry has never been All-Defence. Believe me, it shocked me too.

Lowry has been showing out on the defensive end for the Toronto Raptors since he's arrived. He's turned it up a notch over the last couple of seasons becoming a known pest to opposing players. And the results have shown up in the team's defensive rating. Toronto has finished with a top-five defence each of the two previous seasons. This year, they have the second-best defensive rating in the league only behind the Milwaukee Bucks.

And still, Lowry, who is recognized around the NBA as being one of the better defenders at his position, isn't getting much All-Defence buzz.

It's time we give Kyle Lowry's defence the respect it deserves.

AWARDS PREDICTIONS: All-Defensive | All-NBA | All-Rookie

First things first, let me go ahead and say it: when it comes to charges, there's no one better in the NBA at taking them than Lowry. I mean, the dude even took them at the All-Star Game! While blocks get the most praise, charges drawn have just as much of an impact as a large swat, and Lowry's mastered the art of taking one.

This season, Lowry is tied for the league lead in charges drawn at 30. To put that into perspective, there are 10 teams this season who have taken fewer than 30 charges on the year. And while the Raptors are in the upper echelon of the league in drawing charges, Lowry accounts for 59% of their offensive fouls drawn this season.

Is that stat alone worthy of getting Lowry some All-Defensive Team love? No. But consider this - if rim protectors like Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis not only get credit for their blocks but being intimidators, why don't we give the same respect to guards who put their bodies on the line and scare players into floaters earlier than they may have wanted to? Lowry may not be a rim protector, but his presence on the floor can force drivers to pay attention to where he is the same way they do a shot blocker.

And knowing where Lowry is on the defensive end is something opponents should add to their scouting reports.

According to research done by Krishna Narsu which incorporates the NBA's player tracking data, Lowry has primarily been guarding opposing team's third options. This has given him the freedom to roam like a free safety, not only drawing charges but reading passes and shutting down driving lanes. Lowry's 2.9 deflections per game rank just outside of the top 10 and his 1.2 loose ball recoveries per game are tied for seventh in the league.

His defensive versatility is also eye-popping, as Narsu's research shows. Lowry spends almost as much time guarding power forwards (16.5%) as he does point guards (18.2%). That sort of range is what allows Toronto to be as stingy as it is defensively.

Look, getting selected to the All-Defensive Team isn't easy. This year you can almost lock Ben Simmons into one the guard spot on the first team. That leaves three spots available for guys like Lowry, Patrick Beverley, Eric Bledsoe, Marcus Smart and many other guards, including Lowry's teammate, Fred VanVleet.

If you dig deeper into Lowry's impact defensively beyond his ability to draw charges, some detractors may say that the Raptors perform better defensively with him on the bench than when he's on the floor. That's a fact - the Raptors have a defensive rating of 105.0 with Lowry on the floor versus 102.2 when he's off it. A lot contributes to that, one being the talent is a lot better when Lowry is on the floor than when he's off it - and voters are smart enough to sift through that. For what it's worth, last year's All-Defensive First Team guards Marcus Smart and Eric Bledsoe had similar on/off defensive rating numbers.

Some pundits may say that Marc Gasol is the key to the Raptors' defensive success and his impact is more important than Lowry's. That's up for debate, but Gasol's impact - while tremendously important - has only been felt for 36 of Toronto's 64 games. And when he hasn't been on the floor, Toronto's defensive rating of 106.2 would still be good enough to be a top-five defence in the league this season.

When you're building a Hall of Fame case like Kyle Lowry is in the midst of doing, awards and accolades matter. Lowry has racked up the All-Star appearances, he's been All-NBA and has a championship on his resume. He'll eventually go down as the best Raptor of all-time when he decides to hang them up.

IBAKA: "Lowry is the greatest Raptor of all-time"

Years after his career is over, when you reminisce about Lowry's career and you visit his Basketball-Reference page, wouldn't you wonder how one of the best charge drawers of his era who sacrificed his body on countless occasions never made an All-Defensive team?

If he's going to make one, this is his year.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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