2012 was a year of change for 27-year-old Kyle Lowry. After finally proving himself as a starting point guard in the league and coming off a career year in points per game, Lowry narrowly missed out on an All-Star appearance.
His career then changed in an instant. The Houston Rockets signed global phenomenon Jeremy Lin to a multi-year contract, leaving Lowry as an afterthought.
A surplus at the point position meant a trade to the Toronto Raptors, who instantly installed Lowry as their new starting point guard at the expense of a no. 1 draft pick. Lowry went from chasing the playoffs to a rebuilding project that has lasted for much of the last decade, going from a large basketball market to north of the border, where the NBA is itself an afterthought to the NHL.
In 2013-14, Lowry enters perhaps the most important season of his career, as a disappointing first campaign in Canada has led to a mound of critics to prove wrong.
Looking at his stats at point-blank range, double-digit points per game and at least six assists a game are not too shabby at all. However, it was the consistent inconsistency that Lowry showed throughout the season and his inability to lead a struggling Raptors team that lead to severe heat from the media.
That disparity eventually led to seasoned veteran Jose Calderon taking over the reins as the engine of the team. When Calderon was flipped as part of a three-team trade that brought Rudy Gay to town, Lowry must have been seeing angels in his dreams. Not only was it a statement from the Raptors that Lowry was the no. 1 going forward, but it was a second chance, something only a handful of NBA players are granted.
Why is it a make or break year? The 2014 NBA Draft is shaping into what experts are calling the best since 2003, and we all know who was drafted that year.
Three high-ceiling point guards are projected to go in the first round, meaning if Lowry does not prove he is the best option long-term, GM Masai Ujiri may choose to offload the seven-year veteran in favour of a more youthful star.