When the Toronto Raptors lifted the NBA championship trophy, it was a wake-up call to all of the teams in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard was the guy. The guy that could single-handedly turn a franchise’s fortunes around, and lead them to a championship. The guy that could alter the NBA landscape by pushing a team to trade for a top-three MVP candidate in the hopes of turning into this year’s version of his former team.
With as much power as he is exerting during this NBA calendar year, we have to ask the question: is Kawhi Leonard the best player in basketball? Today will make a case for him and look at the other players who should be in the conversation.
Making a case for Kawhi Leonard
Leonard has two NBA championships with two NBA Finals MVP awards. He made a risky trade worth it for the city of Toronto. He can score at will and is easily the game’s best perimeter defender. The Undefeated also points out his clutch factor, noting that Leonard has made more important plays in this last postseason run than James Harden has made his entire career.
He finished in the top-10 in MVP voting and if the award was given after the playoffs, many think he would have won it. Scoring, defense, leadership, poise. There’s nothing else you would need from the game’s best player, and Kawhi Leonard has it all.
Making a case for Kevin Durant
Although he will miss next season with a torn Achilles, there was an argument for Kevin Durant being the best player in the NBA beforehand. If he remained healthy the Warriors would’ve had a puncher’s chance against Toronto. When he did enter the NBA Finals in game five, he quickly asserted himself into the Warriors offensive gameplan.
Durant scored 12 points in 11 minutes and it looked like the Warriors had a shot at winning it all. If he returns healthy in 2020, we could see him return back to the top of the mantle.
Making a case for James Harden
James Harden won the 2018 MVP award and averaged over 35 points per game this past season. He has more 40 point games than anyone in the league over the last two seasons.
The only knock you can have about Harden is his inability to come through in the playoffs. If the Rockets were able to reach one of the last two NBA finals, he would have a strong claim at being No. 1.
Making a case for Giannis Antetokounmpo
When you win over 60 games, average 27 points, and 12 rebounds, and lead your team to the N. 1 seed in your conference, you can make a claim for being the best player in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo should only get better over the next couple of seasons as fans expect him to develop a threatening jump shot and work it into his offensive skill set.
He has the height, explosiveness, and is pretty good on defense. If he can add a 3-point shot to his game, you could be looking at the NBA’s scariest offensive weapon since Kobe Bryant.
Who’s the best player in the league?
Out of the four players, we listed who do you think should stake the claim as the best player in the NBA? Obviously, LeBron James is always a part of this conversation, given his resume. But, after an excellent postseason, where he shut down the reigning MVP, Kawhi Leonard is probably the best player in basketball. His ability to make the biggest plays in the brightest moments helps him shine above the rest of the game’s best.