Raptors' Kawhi Leonard Named 2019 NBA Finals MVP; Also Won Award in 2014

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 14, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

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.

House of Highlights @HoHighlights

Kawhi is the 2019 NBA Finals MVP. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ https://t.co/vpaIHHH5VX

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:

Sam Amick @sam_amick

NBA Finals MVP voting results. Kawhi was a Hubie Brown vote away from being unanimous. https://t.co/A0sGNchSBg

Tommy Beer of Rotoworld and Shane Young of Forbes praised the 27-year-old superstar's efforts and resume:

Tommy Beer @TommyBeer

Kawhi Leonard has: * 2 Championships * 2 NBA Finals MVP Awards * 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards Still just 27 years old

Shane Young @YoungNBA

Kawhi Leonard will be a 2x Finals MVP, the same as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Legendary player. Top 20 all-time already when you consider his accolades and insane skill-level. Has achieved so much in just 8 years

Ben Golliver of the Washington Post noted the elite company Leonard found himself in with his second Finals MVP Award:

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard named 2019 NBA Finals MVP. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to win the award with multiple franchises.

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:


KAWHI LEONARD FOR THE SERIES! πŸ”₯ #WeTheNorth | #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/z0yi7kdxGB

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.Β That result gave Toronto a 3-1 series lead and its second straight win at Oracle Arena.

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

"I'm just playing to win." - Kawhi Leonard 36 Pts | 12 Reb | 5 3PM | 4 Stl https://t.co/qhSUr9Gd8N

In general, he proved to be nearly unstoppable on the offensive end, especially when he bullied his way into the lane:

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Kawhi's just ridiculous 🀯 https://t.co/Z8mJKArVb9

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Bucket https://t.co/NbmLMVHZyk

Leonard was a little quieter in Game 6 with 22 points and six boards, but he still showcased his excellent two-way game:

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Kawhi Leonard: 2-way player https://t.co/dQQrJM9OB2

He also finished with the third-most points in a single postseason behind two rather legendary names, per NBA.com:


Kawhi Leonard has passed Hakeem Olajuwon (1995 - 725 points) for 3rd all-time scoring in a single #NBAPlayoffs! https://t.co/oFzN5F3zmX

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.