By Mike Holian @MikedUpHooligan on April 18, 2014
Apparently the only players allowed in the MVP discussion are Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Joakim Noah; looks like Raptors fans have to settle for a lighter piece of hardware. The Association employs a surplus of rising talent, however, here are five reasons (out of the 99 available) that Kyle Lowry's 2014 giant-leap was the most impressive.
What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, a population of skeptics was growing; questions regarding Lowry's attitude and desire had to be met head-on. The elite skill-set was always there (a Villanova film study is recommended), but a spark of intangibles was needed to light the fire. Well that fire began to rage, culminating into a complete point-guard package. The number switch was a significant one.
Previous career highs: 14.3 PPG / 6.7 APG / 1.7 3PMPG.
2014 version: 17.9 PPG / 7.4 APG / 2.4 3PMPG.
I haven't forgotten about the Advanced Metrics' crowd either. Let's zoom in on the Win Share categories:
Previous career highs: 5.1 offensive / 2.1 defensive / 7.0 total
2014 version: 8.4 offensive / 3.3 defensive / 11.7 total
A renewed opportunity has equaled prosperity.
It's no secret that the Rudy Gay trade opened the doors for success, but it was the attributes of Lowry's game that truly blew the triumph off its hinges. Toronto feeds off of the floor general's characteristics like defensive tenacity, pounding the lane, not settling for jump shots and fighting on the glass (4.7 RPG, 2nd among all point guards). But old habits haunt when K-Low takes a seat, as jump-shot complacency begins to set in.
Hey NBA, would making things right be something you might be interested in? The All-Star selection-snub was embarrassing enough. Cases can be (and ought to be) made for fellow mid-season classic casualties Goran Dragic and Anthony Davis to receive the accolade, but the MIP should echo the MVP sentiment, as in which player was the most "valuable" to the improvement of their team. Lowry should be the last one standing.
When Raptors fans reminisce, the one moment that usually hits home the most is Vince Carter's back-of-the-rim clank that would have had them advance to the Eastern Finals back in 2001. It has taken over a decade to combat that ghost and now officially leaving it in the past. Toronto is finally back among the league's hierarchy with Lowry at the helm. If that doesn't scream "Most Improved", the NBA should be ashamed of themselves.
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