Kawhi Leonard has been the talk of Toronto and the NBA for a while now. After asking out of San Antonio, the superstar forward was quickly linked to the likes of LeBron James and joining forces with him in L.A. However, the Spurs decidedly did not take that route, keeping the powerhouse play of Leonard in the Western Conference would be far too problematic. Instead, Leonard was traded to Toronto and with that trade came a lot more questions and pondering of just how Kawhi would fit in with the Raptors.
Well, that question was answered in the Toronto Raptors’ pre-season opener: Kawhi Leonard in 19 minutes scored 12 points and had three rebounds in his debut.
While the stat sheet may seem minimal, the focus has to be placed on points to minutes played and the impact that his being on the court has for the Raptors. The forward missed all four three-pointers he took and only shot 6-11 from the free throw line, but he played aggressively and seemed to be very comfortable with being back on the floor. This is excellent news for the Raptors and their fans as Leonard is coming off of an injury that had him sidelined for a significant amount of time.
Leonard told reporters, “… It’s going to take time to get my rhythm, but I felt great being out there and just being able to compete. It was important just for me getting acclimated to the team. Like I was saying, in gameplay calls, seeing what everyone does on the floor, so it was important.”
The Toronto Raptors over the past few seasons have steadily improved and are on par to be one of the stronger teams in the Eastern Conference. Their addition of Kawhi Leondard is a significant marker in the team’s present-day climb. They are looking to jump to being the team to beat in the East with the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, and it seems like a very good chance given the glimpse of the former NBA Finals MVP’s debut for the Raptors.