1. Trade. Validated.
Throughout the postseason, the difference between Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan was disturbingly clear. The former could stretch a defense all the way out to the 3-point line and already possessed championship experience. The latter was a model of inefficiency around the elbow and constantly failed in the biggest games.
The 2019 NBA Playoffs were Leonard’s coronation, as he took his place among the legends of the game. He averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, all while being tasked with guarding some of the best the NBA had to offer.
He also led the entire postseason in offensive and defensive win shares, only furthering his case as the best two-way player in the game today.
Just getting to the Finals was enough for the long-suffering Raptors fanbase that had known very little outside of disappointment in 24 years of existence. With a championship to proudly display in their trophy case and a banner soon to come, fans will happily salute Kawhi should he board a plane to Los Angeles come free agency.
Few if any doubted the method behind Masai Ujiri’s madness when he pulled off the blockbuster deal last summer. The DeRozan era had stagnated and Kawhi gave them a chance to go for it all and then possibly start fresh. The question on everybody’s minds was in wondering whether or not the deal would pay off in the best way.
Toronto sits here today as NBA champions for the coming year. Other steps were taken in order to get to this point. There’s no denying, however, the center of it all was this complicated trade in need of no further justification following an end result that never really seemed possible until the final buzzer.