Kawhi Leonard helped the Raptors achieve ultimate success last season. Along the way, he was putting up career numbers en-route to putting himself in the conversation for the greatest player in the league.
But, according to Raptors coach Nick Nurse, he found himself wondering if his franchise superstar was even playing at his full capabilities last season. Here is what he told The Athletic about Kawhi’s performance last year:
There were several times and team meetings that I thought (Leonard) kind of inserted himself into our team. I know you probably remember me talking a lot about his leadership, and that got to be a big story, people saying he’s not a leader and this and that. I wasn’t making that up. That was probably early on. I think we were probably 13-4 or something and we were having a little meeting about how the offence was running, and he kind of stepped up and said to the team, “This is how I see it.” He couldn’t have said it better, for me. It was perfect.
I’m not sure I ever said this publicly last year, but about February of last year, I was like: “He’s not playing to his full capabilities. He’s cruising to his 30 points a night.” I figured it could go one of two ways. He was gonna cruise on out of here or he was going to flip a switch and try to win the whole damn thing. Obviously, we saw what happened.
Obviously, he turned it on in the postseason, leading the team to their first-ever league championship. But the way he was scoring so nonchalantly, so effortless, made it almost seem like he was coasting throughout the year.
This season, he is on a similair tear. We will see how it ends for him this go-round.