3. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
STATS: 26.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.8 spg, 49.1 FG%, 38.1 3P%
Last week, the Raptors had a 24-point road win over the Clippers and a 20-point road win over the Warriors (on the second night of a back-to-back). However, Leonard didn’t play in either game, which prompted some Toronto-is-better-without-Kawhi takes.
It sounds crazy, as Leonard is one of the NBA’s best two-way players when he’s healthy. However, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet broke down the Raptors’ numbers without the MVP candidate.
“The Raptors are 7-1 without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, with all games played on the road and four of them on the second night of back-to-backs. They have a point differential of 13.9. The 73-win Dubs’ +/- was 10.8. They have multiple blowout wins vs. elite teams. So weird,” Grange tweeted.
It’s worth noting that one of the non-Kawhi wins was a 39-point blowout of the Chicago Bulls, which could be skewing the numbers a bit. Perhaps this has to do with the Raptors’ familiarity and ball movement when Leonard is out. In the win against the Clippers, they had six players score at least 12 points. In the win over the Warriors, all their starters scored in double-figures. Also, in both wins, Toronto had more assists than their season average. The Raptors will continue adjusting to Leonard as the season progresses, but this is still an interesting trend to keep an eye on.
Awards, MVP Race, Top, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors