You have two famous basketball teams: The Toronto Raptors and The San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors, known for being the first NBA team in Canada and firing their coach- Dwayne Casey- who won Coach of the Year this year. Meanwhile, you have the San Antonio Spurs, who have won 5 NBA Finals under one of the winningest coaches in the NBA under Greg Popovich. Recently, one of the most shocking trades in the NBA, besides the 2017 trade of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, has occurred between the Raptors and the Spurs. It was the morning of the July 18th, 2018 when we all heard the news of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, first reported by Adam Schefter. Most were surprised and frustrated, believing that this trade should not have happened. Others are relieved, knowing that their favorite team will not play against their superstars for a while. Knowing that this trade has officially gone down, will these players fit into their new roles on their new teams? Let's find out.
First, Kawhi Leonard. Though he sat out most the season due to an ankle and quad injury, has shown he is a superstar in this league. Before playing a career-low amount of games last year, Leonard averaged at least more than 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game as of 2012 to present day. At 27, he is now starting to enter his prime where he has shown what he is capable of doing, but he still has some untapped potential that we have not seen yet. He is very athletic and can do as much, or maybe more, than what DeRozan can do. However, on the other side, he is seen as a player who deserves a max contract. If Toronto wants to sign Leonard, they're going to have to give up big bucks for him. That may mean to give up Lowry or Ibaka, which may be a problem for the team. In addition, this may affect the offense the Raptors run, since Leonard was used to having plays run around him. He's now going to have to share plays with Lory while under a new coach. Do I think he'll perform well in Toronto? Yes, but it's going to take time, as shown by Paul George while playing on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The second piece that the Spurs age up was Danny Green. Green has been on and off his whole career, mainly shining in 2012 and 2014, where he averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Otherwise, then those two years, he's averaged 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. At age 31, he is ending his prime years and is starting to get into the period where injuries start to get to him, as we witnessed the other day when he admitted that he played last season with a groin tear. He is also a perfect fit for a guard in Toronto with his size, at an astounding 6'6". He'll also be able to cover opponents at the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. Will he fit well in Toronto? Yes. He's going to be an impact player, an under the radar kind of player. He's going to have a break out year.
Now the player who's going to San Antonio- DeMar DeRozan. DeMar has been an all-star since his rookie year. What's not to like about his numbers? He's averaged 20 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Those are outstanding numbers that he is displaying early in his NBA career. Like Kawhi, he is starting to enter his prime at the age of 28. He has shown what he is capable of, whether making an acrobatic layup or making a crucial shot to win a game, and I'm sure that we haven't tapped into his potential yet. There are no real negatives with DeRozan since he can play defense and rebound pretty well, as well as be trusted in controlling an offense. Will he play well in San Antonio? Absolutely. Paired with Aldridge and Gay, he may not score as much as he did in Toronto, but he'll be the missing piece to help Pop get his 6th championship
Who got the better trade? In my opinion, I believe that San Antonio did when acquiring DeRozan. You have a superstar that will be under the legendary Greg Popovinch. Look at what he did, he groomed Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge (to a point) to be one of the best players in their position. You also look at the fact that Pop has success with NBA all-star players, so making DeRozan a star won't be a problem.