The first championship in franchise history and all it took was acquiring one of the most underrated players of this generation. Yes, Kawhi Leonard in the grand scheme of things has been an underrated player.
When the trade was made to acquire him from the San Antonio Spurs for DeMar DeRozan, everyone assumed Toronto wouldn’t win a championship, let alone make it to the Finals. He was a high risk ‘rental’ and it would backfire on them. That was the overall assumption.
Now that wasn’t necessarily my take, but I certainly didn’t expect Toronto to make it to the Finals let alone win it all. What he proved to everyone this year is that he isn’t just an elite defender, but an all-around superstar. He proved it to me when he won a championship in 2014 with the Spurs and was named the Finals MVP in that series. That was his statement to the NBA that he was a superstar. Why did his doubters forget that five years later?
I’ll admit that when this series started I expected the Warriors to be somewhat healthy with Kevin Durant returning after say the first two games. DeMarcus Cousins was playing the entire series, but had moments where he never got in rhythm. That’s to be expected when you’ve been hurt for a few months. However, the one flaw that reared its ugly head with the Warriors was their depth. Kevon Looney was hurt albeit playing that way for most of the series. Andre Iguodala was also banged up. Klay Thompson missed a game and we know what happened to Kevin Durant in Game 5.
With me mentioning all this it doesn’t mean that the Raptors still wouldn’t have defeated them. I’m simply stating the fact that while the Warriors didn’t roll over in any of the six games, their biggest downfall was they didn’t have the kind of depth a championship team needs at this point. Toronto had it with the likes of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred Van Vleet all having huge moments in this series.
Golden State had no answer for Kawhi Leonard and really didn’t have an answer for most of the other names I just mentioned. The Raptors got through two tough series’ in the East with the 76ers and the Bucks. This looked easy by comparison.
Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors on winning their first NBA Championship. Now we wait and see what Kawhi Leonard decides to do in the offseason (I don’t expect him to leave Toronto).