Kawhi Leonard has scored 24 and 31 points in his first two games of the 2018-19 season for the Toronto Raptors, and his first opponent believes the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is back to his old self.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the first victim of Leonard's resurgence, and a few of the players on the Cavs told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Leonard is indeed a superstar once again.
I talked to two #Cavs players that guarded Kawhi Leonard last year and then matched up with him the other night. Said it's night and day and he's back to being Kawhi. They said last year when guarding him he was not close to himself at all.
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) October 20, 2018
Kawhi Leonard only played in nine games last season due to a lingering quadriceps injury and requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs during the offseason. Everyone around the league wanted to know if Leonard was still going to be an elite player after missing so much time, and the early returns are very positive.
Through two games, Leonard is shooting 40.4 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from beyond the arc, and 93.3 percent from the free-throw line. The scary part is that Leonard doesn't even have his rhythm back yet. He's just shaking off the rust and still dominating games. That should strike fear into the hearts of every team and player in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019 if he declines his 2019-20 player-option. The Raptors can offer Leonard almost $50 million more than any other team in 2019, including a fifth year.
The Raptors have a great chance to get to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history with Leonard in the mix. Toronto had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and is essentially replacing DeMar DeRozan with Leonard.