NBA Playoffs, Toronto Raptors

NBA Finals 2019: Kawhi Leonard named Finals MVP

Five years after winning NBA Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard has added some more hardware to his trophy case.

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard was named NBA Finals MVP Thursday night after leading Toronto to its first title in franchise history.

Leonard tallied 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the series-clinching victory at Oracle Arena in Oakland. He averaged almost 29 points per game in the series. Leonard hit big shots down the stretch all series and iced the 114-110 Game 6 victory with two key free throws.

After receiving the award, the humble Leonard thanked his Raptors teammates for welcoming him with open arms after a difficult summer. At this time year ago, Leonard’s future was about as uncertain as possible. His tenure in San Antonio had gone awry, as had his relationship with legendary head coach Gregg Popovich. He played in just nine games in the 2017-18 season due to a quad injury, and questions about his character began to pop up.

This title is the second of Leonard’s career, as is the Finals MVP. The accolades add to an increasingly crowded resume for Leonard, one that also included two Defensive Player of the Year Awards and three All-NBA nods.

Leonard won NBA Finals MVP in 2014 when he led the San Antonio Spurs to a title over LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat. Leonard averaged 17.8 points per game in the series on 62 percent field goal shooting and 58 percent 3-point shooting. His presence was felt on the defensive end of the floor as well, notching 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

As Toronto — and the entire country of Canada, for that matter — celebrates, fans everywhere will begin to adjust their GOAT lists. After hitting the ultimate low, Kawhi has now hit the ultimate high, and is officially your 2019 NBA Finals MVP.

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