Kawhi Leonard reaches his superhuman version in the playoffs

The Raptors forward is setting one of the best series in the history of the playoffs against the Sixers and claiming in the Canadian franchise.


Kawhi Leonard has claimed responsibility in Toronto. It is a fact. The forward made a new dream game last night, and with 39 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists, he finished with the Sixers in Philadelphia so that his team could tie the series and avoid a 3-1 that would have left those of Nick Nurse in an ignominious situation. The series that the American is doing only confirms the great level he has shown throughout the season, especially in the final phase, where he is reaching the best version of his career. A superhuman version.

After a practically blank season in the San Antonio Spurs, the level that Leonard could show in this season was a mystery. He left the only team he had played in the NBA to join a franchise that was not his favorite and after questioning his group commitment and leadership. However, his numbers have cleared all kinds of doubts and have established him as what he has always thought he was: one of the best players in the league.

The year of the player has been rising. In the regular phase he made the best averages of his career and finished with 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Coming from a year in which he only played 9 games, the restriction of meetings has been a constant, and he has played a total of 60, yes, with 34 minutes per night, the maximum of his career. He has also achieved his points and bounces, surpassing even the statistics obtained in 2016/17, the last complete in San Antonio and until that time the best of his sporting life (25.5 + 5.8 + 3.5 ) .

Without making a lot of noise, the Raptors have slipped into the second position of the Eastern Conference (58-24), staying only one victory from last year (the best record in the franchise). Led by the forward, have achieved the second best record in the NBA, only surpassed by the Bucks (60-22) and above the Warriors (57-25) , so they will have an advantage in all the qualifying rounds except for the Milwaukee franchise, in case they meet them in the Eastern finals (they go 2-1 against Boston) .

The season of the Canadians was focused this year on the playoffs. After years of disappointment in the final phase with Dwayne Casey on the bench, Nick Nurse has managed to form a competitive team, and the arrival in February of Marc Gasol completed a template that brought together experienced players and a deep bench. In theory, a perfect mix for the key part of the campaign, where the qualifying rounds are played for the title.

It has been in this phase where Leonard has exploded. His season has clearly gone up, and against the Sixers he is playing the best basketball of his career. In the playoffs he averages more than 32 points, almost 8 rebounds and 3 assists per game, statistics that go up if we focus on the series against Philadelphia. In the four games played against Brett Brown, the former Spurs are 38 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists with 62% in field goals and 46% in trip. Numbers that have allowed him to reach a superhuman version that everyone asked him since he achieved the ring and the MVP of the Finals in 2014.

The comparisons are odious, but to highlight what the Californian is doing in this series, suffice it to say that Michael Jordan achieved more than 35 points per game with 60% shooting once in his career. And what players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant have never done it. And the comparisons are (very) odious, but DeMar DeRozan, man he has replaced in the Raptors (and for which he was traded), averaged 17 points a year, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the semifinals of the Conference ... 43% in shots. The Raptors have won, no doubt, and Leonard is performing a bestial performance that is one of the best series (so far) of a perimeter player in the history of the NBA.

In the qualifiers, except for the third game against the Magic, has surpassed 50% in shots in all the parties, and in 5 of them it has been over the 60. It has done three double-doubles (two before the Sixers) and 6 parties over the 30 points, with 45 as maximum (also against Philadelphia). In the last dawn, he gave a master class before his current rivals. He played the important balls in the last period, scored 8 points and delivered 2 assists (plus a key offensive rebound) in those last 12 minutes, and his pulse did not shake when giving victory to his team, which is at +6.5 with him on court. He seemed exhausted at the end of the game (he played 43 strenuous minutes), but his effort was worth it and his teamecupedó the factor cancha.

Ya said that there would be a time when Leonard would have the series in his hands. It could have been yesterday. The match was even at all times, and the forward responded at the end, just when the big stars appeared. In the cluth moments of the final phase, many great players have forged their legend, and that is where Kawhi is writing his own story.

The future, the great unknown

The journey in the Raptors can be as successful as ephemeral. The series against the Sixers have at least two games remaining (which could well be three given the level shown by both teams), and if the Canadian team passes the round, it will still have the dream of the ring within its reach ... something that the fans have been waiting for years and that with the arrival of the forward has gone from being unlikely to possible.

But this type of project is usually not a single season. It is true that Casey planted a seed that can germinate the current campaign, but there have been many changes and has formed a very new team that needs, like all, a period of adaptation. What is a mystery is to know if Leonard is going to want to go out in the franchise, finish as the playoffs finish.

It is very difficult to know what goes through the head of a player like him. Shy and introverted, without ever giving much information to the press and with the memory of last year (still do not know exactly what happened in San Antonio) can only speculate what will happen to this player. Last summer he even threatened to spend another season in limbo, either to force the transfer during the regular season or to wait for the contract to end , something that will happen on July 1. However, a player in his category could not afford to spend two years standing, and decided to play with the Raptors. It does not seem to have been a bad decision even though the Toronto franchise was not his favorite.

Almost a year later, the question remains. It has been speculated with the Clippers (it is natural of Los Angeles), although the tuning with his current teammates is also evident. When the transfer market starts, we will see where the shots go and where a player who is currently in the Liga elite ends up. At the moment, Leonard is focused on the title and a playoffs in which he is making history.



Photos from as.com

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