Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard won the 2019 NBA Finals MVP Award on Thursday after leading his team to a 4-2 series victory over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Leonard, who won the 2014 NBA Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs, averaged 28.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals during the championship round.
No one questioned the obvious MVP choice aside from analyst Hubie Brown:
Tommy Beer of Rotoworld and Shane Young of Forbes praised the 27-year-old superstar's efforts and resume:
Ben Golliver of the Washington Post noted the elite company Leonard found himself in with his second Finals MVP Award:
He was sensational throughout the playoffs, leading his team in points, rebounds, steals and player efficiency rating. The eight-year veteran was also second in assists behind point guard Kyle Lowry.
Furthermore, he delivered one of the greatest highlights in NBA history when his buzzer-beating shot against the Philadelphia 76ers vaulted the Raps into the Eastern Conference Finals:
Leonard starred against Golden State, most notably during a critical Game 4 road win when he posted 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting, 12 rebounds and four steals in a 105-92 victory. That result gave Toronto a 3-1 series lead and its second straight win at Oracle Arena.
In general, he proved to be nearly unstoppable on the offensive end, especially when he bullied his way into the lane:
Leonard was a little quieter in Game 6 with 22 points and six boards, but he still showcased his excellent two-way game:
He also finished with the third-most points in a single postseason behind two rather legendary names, per NBA.com:
The Raptors won their first title in the franchise's 24-year history thanks largely to Leonard, whom Toronto acquired in a seismic trade that sent leading scorer DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, among other moving parts.
But to his credit, Leonard jelled well with his new teammates and remained humble after many wondered whether he really wanted to be there. Now, he's a two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP with a chance to build a resume comparable to the game's greatest players of all time.