Standing in a high-school gym in Las Vegas awaiting the end of a summer-league Raptors practice, we had our first Kyle Lowry moment of the season. Lowry walked in with a bunch of his Raptors teammates (pretty much the whole team showed up in Vegas to work out together) and the physical change in him was jaw-dropping. Gone was the pudgy Lowry, replaced by an ultra-fit version. You could even see the difference in his face. It was that apparent. It turns out that was just the beginning of the transformation. Unlike a year previous, Lowry was healthy throughout this past off-season and able to dedicate himself to a training regimen he followed passionately. The year before, he lost two months of his off-season following surgery to correct a sports hernia. But Lowry has taken his improvements a step further. Always a guy who wanted to win as much as anyone (he would say more than anyone) on the court, Lowry’s approach to the game has not always been tactful when dealing with others. That has hurt him. He has always been a very confident — some might say cocky — basketball player. He has never doubted himself, nor his ability, and prides himself on a high basketball IQ. His entry into the league was full of pitfalls, primarily the kind where a young player finds himself stuck behind others who are taking up the majority of the playing time. Not having been in Memphis or Houston for any of those early days, we can’t say for sure what went down. But suffice it to say Lowry’s reputation was tainted in the process. He arrived in Toronto with the reputation of being, at best, a difficult player for coaches to handle. Lowry, perhaps because he was never in full health that first year, did nothing to dissuade this. But he has been the consummate team player in Year 2 of his Raptors tenure. Listen to Dwane Casey, who had his moments with Lowry in that first year, as he keeps talking about how Lowry has turned over a new leaf.