By: Kylan Watson
Throughout most of the NBA offseason the biggest question was what team would Spurs Forward, Kawhi Leonard play for this season? Leonard has been very frustrated with the Spurs organization and the drama had been unfolding last season and through out most of the summer. In mid-July the Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Leonard now is with a team who can contend right away in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Leonard only played in nine games during the 2017-2018 NBA season. He missed most of the season due to a quadriceps injury. Missing most of the season and being so set on going to the Lakers really decreased the market for Leonard. Most teams knew they were only going to have Leonard for one-year and were not willing to risk giving up assets even for a player, who when healthy is arguably a top-five player in the NBA.
The biggest question for Leonard and the Raptors is how healthy are the legs of Leonard? His health will determine who won this trade.
The Raptors gave the Spurs one of their most reliable players and star DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan was a loyal player to the Raptors who just signed a new extension. He also improved as a player this past season. He improved his three-point shooting percentage to 31%. DeRozan also scored 23.0 points per game, grabbed 3.9 rebounds per game, and averaged 5.2 assists.
Getting DeRozan is a good pick-up for the Spurs who now have a star that is under contract at least for two years. They also get a player that will be highly motivated to help the Spurs make some noise in the stacked Western Conference. The Spurs got a really good player, some bench help, and a top pick in the 2019 draft, and most importantly they traded Leonard out of the Western Conference.
Leonard and DeRozan will forever be linked via this trade and although Leonard may be the better player. DeRozan has consistently improved every season and is very durable. Both players will have a lot to prove this season.
Leonard will have to prove that he is healthy this year, especially if he wants to increase his value for the 2019 free-agency period. If Leonard can be his old-self again not only will the Raptors be a top contender in the East. Toronto may become a Kawhassic world.