(via NBA.com)

Kawhi Leonard has hit an unbelievable stride lately, leading the Raptors to the Finals with defense, scoring, and clutch performances. As Toronto looks to eliminate the Warriors in Game 5, they will no doubt need Kawhi at his best.

But the Kawhi storyline has more to it than numbers. In San Antonio, the 3x All-Star was called a “system” player by many, including Kevin Durant after Leonard won the Finals with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. It apparently really struck a nerve with the likely Finals MVP.

(via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective podcast)

“I was talking to somebody about that, somebody who knows Kawhi. And I’m just going to give it the qualifier here that, who really knows Kawhi? I mean, very few, I mean very, very few people. Certainly, I’m not saying that this is some sort of insight that is dazzling. But, from what I understand, when Kawhi heard that quote, that he was a system player, that it really, really pissed him off and that that’s one of the things that you carry with him.”

Is that comment by Durant giving Leonard an extra incentive this postseason? At the very least, he has made the idea of himself being a system player seem silly now.

Kawhi Leonard has proven it is time he joined the conversation for best player in the world. Kawhi Leonard has proven he is capable of leading a team to their ultimate goal. And Kawhi Leonard, to the dismay of his doubters, is proving he is more than a “system” player.