Raptors center Marc Gasol says Kawhi Leonard is ‘on a pedestal all by himself’
Gasol, who was traded to the Raptors back in February, described Leonard as someone who’s on a different level, and that he’s on that stage all by himself.
"I think Kawhi impacts the team and the franchise in so many ways. I don't think there's any other player of his caliber in the NBA today. He's on a pedestal all by himself," Gasol says of Kawhi. "He's one of a kind."
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) June 16, 2019
In his first season with the Raptors, Leonard played at an extremely high level, erasing any doubts about him not being able to fully recover from the quad injury he suffered back in 2017. He led Toronto to the second-best record in the league despite missing 22 games during the regular season, mostly due to load management.
In the playoffs, Kawhi played even better. He reminded everyone that he’s still one of the best players in the league. Some of his best moments include that series-clinching buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Leonard was also able to shut down perennial MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo in the conference finals when the Raptors faced the Milwaukee Bucks. They initially went down 0-2 in that series before Leonard defended the Greek Freak. They’ve won four straight after that.
The Raptors made it to the Finals for the first time in franchise history, but they faced a daunting task of taking down the Golden State Warriors — winners of two straight NBA championships.
Leonard, however, was determined to win. He put up a historic performance in the Finals, averaging 30.5 points on close to 50 percent shooting. Everytime the Warriors built a huge lead, Kawhi was there to take over in the fourth quarter. He knew what’s at stake, and he delivered.
Now, the Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champs, thanks in large part to Leonard’s phenomenal playoff run.
Gasol had his reasons for claiming ‘The Fun Guy’ as a cut above the rest. And whether you like him or not, there is no doubt that Kawhi is arguably the best basketball player in the world right now.