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Toronto Temperature: It’s Kyle Lowry’s world, we’re just living in it

In a split week for the Raptors, the rotation mainstays stayed hot and the back-end of the rotation is still stuck in the mud. Time to take the Temperature.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA scheduling wizard of a computer programmed a short week for our beloved Toronto Raptors, but thankfully some players were still hot and not!

Toronto finished the week 1-1 with a walloping of the Dwane Casey-led Detroit Pistons (finally!) and a close loss to the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals runner-up Milwaukee Bucks, who are led by the star of the 2021 free agency class (and future Toronto Raptor) Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Now, let’s check some temps.

Who’s Hot

Kyle Lowry, Best Point Guard in the League

One day after last week’s Toronto Temperature dropped, I saw this tweet on my timeline and I wept harder than when my own child was born.

Now, those rankings have changed thanks (mostly) to the Raptors playing a grand total of two games this week and a handful of the MVP favourites going scorched earth (see: Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo), but it doesn’t diminish the fact that Lowry was there and is playing the best basketball of his career.

On the season, Lowry is averaging his highest career points per game, his highest PER and a hair under the illustrious 50/40/90 club at 48/39/89. What’s more amazing, you ask? How about the fact that he’s doing it while playing 38 minutes per game in his 33-year-old season and is nestled into the top-5 in charges taken. Looking for more?

His defense has always been there and has always been undervalued by eye-test NBA Twitter, but now that he’s putting up counting stats on offense, there’s just no other point guard in the league that comes close to his total impact on both sides of the ball. Dame? No D. Kyrie? See above? Kemba? Okay, Kemba is close, but that’s all the ground I’m going to give on this one. If you disagree, you’re wrong, but hey, that’s totally cool!

Finally, if Lowry is licking his fingers before he shoots it, you’re cooked.

Pascal Siakam, 50/40/90?

As mentioned above, Kyle Lowry is averaging just a hair shy of the 50/40/90 club. You know who else is right there? Spicy P! Siakam is currently averaging 49/42/96(?!?!) on eight more shot attempts per game than last year! Can I use enough exclamation marks for this guy, or what?

While, yes, it is early in the season (looking forward to that not being true soon), every single part of Siakam’s game this year looks for real. He is absolutely obliterating whoever defends him (save for Giannis who is an ideal defender for Pascal) and making it look easy in the process. Even when it’s ugly, it’s beautiful, you know?

Granted, that particular Pistons defender, Christian Wood, is probably an NBA player you haven’t heard of until he was stuck with the unfortunate assignment of having to guard Siakam. But still, look at that confidence to wave the Serge Ibaka screen away en route to dropping his 19th point of the third quarter in the Halloween special against Detroit.

Pascal has arrived — and he knows it.

Matt Thomas, Shooting

Who’s Not

Matt Thomas, Defending

Chris Boucher, Light in the Wallet

This judgment might be slightly harsh for Boucher, but he has not looked good in his very limited minutes this season. In the two games that the Raptors played, Boucher put up a -11 with two rebounds and zero points on 0-2 shooting — he was also demonstrably outplayed by two much larger humans in Andre Drummond and Robin Lopez.

Hence the caveat and why it is only slightly harsh. While Nurse could do Boucher some favours in putting him out there against more like-bodied counterparts, there just aren’t that many of those players in the league. If Boucher has any hope of making it out of garbage time minutes alive and into meaningful minutes, he’s going to have to bulk up and as a fellow slender man, I can say that it’s really hard to do.

Bonus! Who’s Retired

Jose Calderon, Top 10 Raptor

In lieu a third Who’s Not, it’s only appropriate to give a special shoutout to one of the best Raptors of all time, Jose Calderon. Calderon officially retired from the NBA on Tuesday and left an indelible mark on the Raptors franchise. He also, undoubtedly, has the softest hands I have ever had the honour of shaking.