Raptors fans worldwide were praying that Kawhi Leonard would re-sign with them following their championship run together last season. However, it turns out that the two-time Finals MVP viewed Toronto as a one-hit-wonder — “not good enough to repeat,” according to Raptors beat writer Josh Lewenberg.
Leonard reportedly felt as if the supporting cast of the Raptors isn’t capable of legitimately defending their title. Therefore, insinuating that their 2019 run might’ve been an aberration. Lo and behold, that same inferior supporting cast went on to post a superior record than last year while celebrating two-All-Stars and a Coach of the Year.
How the Two Parties Faired This Season
With the second-best record in the NBA, Toronto swept the Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Next, in one of the most entertaining series in recent memory, they fell short of a Conference Finals rebirth. They lost in seven games to the Celtics. Their season wasn’t for naught, however, as pundits and players around the league lauded the reigning champions for their proverbial heart of a champion.
Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, fell drastically short of expectations and lost in the same round as Toronto. They squandered a 3-1 lead to the underdog Nuggets – giving up 15+ leads in both games five and six. In game seven, Leonard put forth what many are calling the biggest choke job in NBA history. He scored 14 points on an abysmal 6-22 from the field.
As for his touted supporting cast in LA, they failed to show up as well. His running mate, Paul George, was lackluster throughout the playoffs and poured in a whopping 10 points in their game seven loss. Their lauded bench tandem, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, were also subpar. Each underperforming when it mattered most, and failing to assist Leonard to his third chip.
Hindsight is 20/20, and only time will tell whether he made the right decision in leaving Toronto or not. However, one can only imagine if, even for a second, he reminisced his days in Toronto and thought, “what could have been?”