Kawhi Leonard has emerged into one of the best players in the NBA. You can make a case that he’s the best two-way player in the league. His offensive game has matured over the past few years, and he continues to be a threat on the defensive end.
Leonard won his first NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs and got his second one with the Toronto Raptors. He was the NBA Finals’ MVP playing for both teams.
Kawhi Leonard’s NBA career
During the 2011 NBA draft, the Indiana Pacers initially selected Leonard with the No. 15 pick but was later traded to the Spurs that night. The four-time all-star immediately made an impact on a winning Spurs’ team. As a rookie, Leonard played alongside Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Leonard was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and averaged 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. During his time in San Antonio, Leonard worked on his game a lot, and it started to show on the court. His game took off during the 2016-17 season with the Spurs. He already won his first championship three years prior, and now he was becoming a dominant force individually.
The league started to catch notice on Leonard’s play. He averaged 25.5 points per game during the 2016-17 season and emerged as the Spurs go-to guy. When he was traded to the Raptors, it caught a lot of people across the NBA by surprise. The Spurs were headed in a different direction and thought it was best to let their star player go.
Once Leonard got to Toronto, he led the team to their first NBA championship in franchise history. Before they reached the finals, Leonard hit one of the most iconic shots in playoff history to send the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Leonard ending dynasties
If you look at Leonard’s resume, it is very impressive. When he won his first title, he had the task of defending LeBron James, who was on a Miami Heat team that was trying to win their third straight title. That was the first dynasty that Leonard stopped.
When Leonard was in Toronto, he had the task of stopping another team from winning three straight, and that was the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were the favorites going into the finals but lost Kevin Durant due to an Achilles injury he suffered in the Western Conference Finals.
It still was going to be a tough matchup for the Raptors, but Leonard played his best during the series and helped the Raptors defeat the Warriors. This was Leonard’s second time beating a team in the finals that could have won three championships in a row.
Kawhi Leonard’s success against the best
Leonard has played some of his best basketball against the best of the best. Defeating that Heat and Warriors team lets you see how much of an impact Leonard has on a team. He may not show a lot of emotion on the court, but he knows how to get the job done, and he knows how to win.
Now, as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard will look to lead his team to the finals once the NBA comes back. Leonard will go down as one of the best two-way players to ever play the game.