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NBA Sunday: How Kyle Lowry Figured It Out

Kyle Lowry has always belonged in the NBA, but this year he figured out how to get everything he wanted in his career.

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has everything he wants: a four-year contract that puts him among the highest-paid point guards in the league, a new endorsement deal with adidas and a starting role on a playoff team.

These were all things Lowry wanted when he initially entered the league, and while some came at different times, this is the first time in his career when he’s had all three simultaneously.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Lowry came into the NBA with the toughness and chip on his shoulder that has become synonymous with most players from that area. He was frustrated splitting time with the likes of Mike Conley Jr., Goran Dragic and Jose Calderon, feeling like they were taking minutes he was earning and more deserving of.

“When you come into the league you’re trying to figure it out,” Lowry said to Basketball Insiders. “You’re really just a young guy trying to figure it out, make a name and find your niche.”

Lowry made a name for himself, but it was as a guy who was difficult to coach. He let his frustrations with playing time affect his work ethic to a certain extent as well. Just prior to this year’s trade deadline, the Raptors still weren’t sold on Lowry being their point guard of the future. He got off to a relatively slow start and after trading Rudy Gay, it looked like the Raptors were going to ship him off to the New York Knicks and just embrace the 2013-14 campaign as a rebuilding year.

But right as they were about to pull the trigger, Lowry took his game, and the Raptors as a whole, to another level. After December he was one of the most productive point guards in the league, and actually garnered All-Star consideration.

“It’s not always about scoring,” Lowry conceded. “It’s about the little things, the intangibles, the things that help win games. It’s not about having 40 points. It’s about winning games. That’s what really matters. Once you find your niche, it’s about trying to figure out how to win more, win big and get into a situation where you’re playing in the playoffs every year and you’re contending, trying to get to the Conference Finals and essentially the NBA Finals.

“I’ve always wanted to win games, but when you win and you win big, you get everything. Everyone gets everything they wanted.”

As one of the bona fide leaders of the team now, Lowry has been able to get the rest of the team to buy into that concept.

“We have team of guys that aren’t worried about anything but winning,” Lowry said. “I think everyone understands that if you win, you get taken care of the right way.

“I think our coaches have done a good job of making sure that things are being done the right way. I have to come back better, in better shape and be a better player every year. I have to show those guys on the floor that I’m working hard when I get back.”

After a career year in which he averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds, Lowry is confident that his best is still yet to come – especially as he applies lessons from his past shortcomings to ensure better results in the future.

“I’m only 28, I think I’m still pretty young, so I think it’s a lot more notches for myself and I’m just starting to figure it out mentally also so I think it’s a lot more notches to go for me and the change of eating habits and training habits are always going to help,” Lowry said.

Lowry’s career year coincided with the Raptors setting a franchise record for regular season wins at 48-34. They were a make from Lowry at the buzzer of Game 7 in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Brooklyn Nets from advancing to the second round for just the second time in their history as well.

Going into next season, Lowry sees no reason why the Raptors can’t pick up where they left off. The perennial Eastern Conference champions Miami HEAT lost their top player, and the Raptors are poised to have a lot of internal growth with the development of guys like Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas among others.

“The East is definitely wide open,” Lowry said.

Larry Bird Comments on Paul George After Diagnosis: “Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family. It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery.

“There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back.  Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

“We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA’s goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.

“Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special.”

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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