Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard says he feels no pressure from fans
Toronto Raptors star small forward Kawhi Leonard doesn’t feel pressure from fans because he sets expectations for himself that are far greater than the ones people have. Leonard only played in nine games last season with the San Antonio Spurs due to a lingering quadriceps injury, so there’s a lot of hype and anticipation surrounding his return this season.
Kawhi was asked about pressure from the fans to win: "I don't feel pressure from the fans… I set my own expectations and try to reach my own goals."
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 4, 2018
Toronto feels it has a great chance to get to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history this year with Leonard in the mix. The Raptors had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and are essentially replacing DeMar DeRozan with Leonard, who is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and arguably a top-five player in the league when healthy.
Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019 if he declines his player option for the 2019-20 season, something he is expected to do since more money is available to Leonard on the open market. The Raptors can offer Leonard almost $50 million more than any other team in 2019, including a fifth year. While some believe Leonard already has one foot out the door and Los Angeles on his mind, Toronto is a beautiful city and there is speculation Leonard could re-sign there if the Raptors have a successful season.
Leonard scored 17 points in 18 minutes against the Utah Jazz in his second game with the Raptors. It looks like the 2014 Finals MVP is starting to get his groove and confidence back.