Kawhi Leonard Voted NBA's Best Player; Clippers Moves Touted in Offseason Survey

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2019

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard celebrates after the Raptors defeat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

After an impressive run through the 2019 playoffs, Kawhi Leonard has taken the mantle as the best player in the NBA.

This is at least how the 20 coaches, executives and scouts felt in a recent poll conducted by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The Los Angeles Clippers forward earned 12 votes, ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo with six and James Harden with two.

The 28-year-old averaged a career-high 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, his first and only with the Toronto Raptors, but he didn't get much MVP buzz after only playing 60 games. However, he truly shined in the playoffs with 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while leading the Raptors to their first title in franchise history.

He also took home the second Finals MVP award of his career.

While Antetokounmpo was the MVP for the regular season, Leonard's ability during the playoffs showed how dominant he can be on both ends of the court.

Unsurprisingly, the same voters believed the Clippers had the best offseason move in landing both Leonard and Paul George.

"The Clippers are pretty impressive with how they finagled that," a Western Conference assistant coach said. "The [number of] picks are kind of crazy [to give up], but to get Kawhi and Paul George, that's what it cost. To contend, that's what it was going to take. That's what matters."

When asked to pick a champion for next year, 13 voters picked the Clippers, while only the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers got multiple votes with two each.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Lakers received zero votes to win a title despite getting Anthony Davis, which ESPN's Jalen Rose agreed with on Get Up:

Two voters even listed the New Orleans Pelicans offseason as the best move in the league after dealing away Davis for a package of young players and picks.

The Lakers are tied for the second-best odds to win a championship, via VegasInsider.com, but insiders apparently don't believe in them as much.


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