Opinion: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors

Kawhi Leonard (2) of the Los Angeles Clippers answers questions from the media during the LA Clippers annual media day at the Honey Training Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 29, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Kawhi Leonard (2) of the Los Angeles Clippers answers questions from the media during the LA Clippers annual media day at the Honey Training Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 29, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

On December 11th Kawhi Leonard, will make his return to Tronto after leaving them in free agency, and giving them their first-ever championship but to know how he got there we have to start from the beginning of his career and see what lead him to the Raptors. On June 23rd, 2011, Kawhi Leonard a small forward (SF) was selected with the 15th pick by the Indiana Pacers, but then later that night the Pacers would trade Kawhi to the San Antonio Spurs. 

“The Indiana Pacers have traded the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard to the San Antonio Spurs for point guard George Hill. “Indiana selected Leonard, a forward out of San Diego State, with the 15th pick in the first round Thursday night. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds last season. He was a second-team All-American who helped the Aztecs win a school-record 34 games. Hill averaged 11.6 points and 2.5 assists per game last season, his third with the Spurs. The Spurs also received the rights to 42nd pick Davis Bertans and 2005 second-round pick Erazem Lorbek from the Pacers,” According to an article from Chad Ford at ESPN.

Just the year before in the 2010 NBA draft the Pacers had the 10th pick and had selected the small forward Paul George from Fresno. In a recent interview, Paul had made a statement on what it would’ve been like playing with Kawhi; 1:09 to 1:25 from the video “I was a little nervous just because we play the same position, immediately I was like ok I need to work on something because they bring in reinforcement in right away, but it would of been amazing to see what we could have done in Indiana and what we could’ve accomplished”.

Kawhi played with the Spurs for 7 seasons and he won his first ring in the 2014 NBA finals against the Miami Heat when Lebron James was there. Kawhi averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and with those numbers, he won the finals MVP. But when things started to go bad for Kawhi was when it was 2017 in the western conference finals against the Golden State Warriors it was game one in the third quarter the spurs were up by 21 and when Zaza Puchlia for the warriors stepped right under Kawhi’s shooting space Kawhi landed on his feet and would have to leave the game and would not return for the rest of the season as they would lose the series in a 4-0 sweep. But during this summer Kawhi would have a thigh contusion and would miss most of the 2017-2018 season only playing in 9 games and averaged 16.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals a game for the short time he played. But what Tony Parker Kawhi’s teammate had to say about his thing contusion was “My quad injury was a hundred times worse’ than Kawhi Leonard’s”. Kawhi was traded to the Tronto Raptors on July, 18th 2018.

According to an article from the bleacher report, “The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors agreed to a deal in principle that would involve a swap of All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday. Wojnarowski reported Leonard and Danny Green will head to Toronto in exchange for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick. Per Wojnarowski, the first-round pick is protected for the 20th overall selection and above, and after a year, it will turn into two second-round draft choices. Zach Lowe of ESPN also pointed out Toronto would receive $5 million cash from San Antonio in the deal, to cover the tax hit related to Leonard’s trade kicker,” according to Bleacher Report. 

In Kawhi’s first season with the raptors, he would lead them with a record of 58-24. As they fought through the playoffs he would have one of the most historic playoff series ever on averaging 30.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.7 steals, and why it is one of the best is because of his numbers and his great defense. In my opinion, I believe that he hit the greatest shot in playoff history hitting the only game-winner in a Game 7 against the Philadelphia seventy sixers to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. But it just wasn’t his scoring that was amazing he was also an elite defender especially after game 2 of the eastern conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks and the greek freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo), Giannis would take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Raptors and once the raptors had the home-court, Giannis had no chance when Kawhi decided to guard on Giannis for the rest of the series, Giannis would not be the same as in game 3 as he air-balled a free throw in game three and game 4 the Raptors would beat the Bucks in game 6 and go to the NBA finals for the first time ever. They would go against the back to back NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, but the warriors would not have their best player from a calf injury as they would take advantage of his absence Kawhi had an amazing NBA finals performance. He averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds  4.2 assists 2 steals and 1.2 blocks a game.

That’s what it takes to win a championship and it took the Raptors 6 games in the best of 7 series to beat the Warriors. But what not many people know when Kawhi got traded to the Raptors was that he didn’t even want to play he wanted to play back home in Los Angeles so when the time came for Kawhi to choose where he wanted to play next season he had the choice of staying in Toronto going to the Lakers or going to the clippers but in the end, he did choose to go to the Clippers but he didn’t go alone he brought another superstar with him, Paul George. But when Kawhi makes his return to Tronto there shouldn’t be anything but cheers and clapping because he brought them there first-ever NBA championship and he never wanted to play there and still one for them. And also he gets his championship ring on the same night of his return, my prediction is That Kawhi will score 30 and beat the Raptors 118 to 103. 

This game doesn’t really mean much to me but for the fans of Toronto, it will, it will also be very exciting to see how the game plays out.

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