Some may be surprised that the Toronto Raptors have a series lead over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But they shouldn’t be.
Per our research, Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard currently has a winning record during his career games against all active players on the Warriors. The only player on the Golden State roster who can say they have beaten Leonard more times than they have lost to him is Kevin Durant, currently injured.
Leonard has 15 wins and 17 losses during his professional career when facing off against Durant. They have had a longstanding competitive rivalry since the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder were Western Conference juggernauts.
Otherwise, the next-best record belongs to veteran guard Shaun Livingston – who has won just one less game than he has lost against Leonard.
While the discrepancy between a role player like Livingston and a top big man like DeMarcus Cousins (who has won just 15 percent of his games vs. Leonard) is ginormous, this can largely be attributed to the fact that Cousins had spent the majority of his career on the lowly Sacramento Kings.
Even though the Toronto star was on a fantastic Spurs team for nearly all of his career, it’s worth mentioning that many players have been on good teams. Yet no one has a better winning percentage in their career than Leonard.
One of the biggest surprises, however, is that three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson has won 10 times but lost 18 times when facing off against Leonard.
His presence during Game 3 would have extraordinarily important for the Warriors, of course. But the fact that Leonard predominantly prevails makes for an even more interesting narrative upon his expected return for Game 4.
Alberto del Roa contributed research to this report