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Kawhi Leonard’s forgettable 2017-18 still lands him at No. 12 in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100

Kawhi Leonard

Despite only nine games of sample size throughout a drama-plagued 2017-18 season, Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard still came in at No. 12 in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players ranking.

Leonard was ranked fourth last season, even after suffering a quad injury that prematurely ended his season during the 2017 Western Conference Finals, but he has managed to stay within the Top-15 while players like Gordon Hayward and DeMarcus Cousins have taken a severe hit in theirs for their own season-ending injuries.

The list, which was curated by SI’s Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, notes why Leonard managed to keep ranking that high despite the very little proof he displayed last season after averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game with the San Antonio Spurs during his short return to the court.

“Leonard is a perennial MVP candidate, he’s the best player in Raptors history even though he hasn’t played a game yet, and he would be the best teammate LeBron James has ever had if he joins the Lakers next summer. In short, he was a 20+ points per game scorer and very nearly a 50/40/90 shooter in the same year he won 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. That is the definition of immense value on the hardwood.”

Leonard was among the top-5 players in the league and was by far the ultimate two-way player in the NBA when healthy. If he responds by coming back in full strength, it would come to no surprise if he lands among the top-5 next year once again.