Just months after winning a Championship with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard joined Paul George on the L.A. Clippers with the hope of continuing his success in a place he feels more comfortable.
While many have the Clippers as the favorites to win the 2020 title, Stephen A. Smith recently said on First Take that the 2x Finals MVP would actually have a better shot to win had he stayed in Toronto...
"Do you think Kawhi has a better chance winning the title this year with the Clippers or would it have been with his old team, the Raptors?
Smith: I think it would have been with his old team north of the border because I think about the personnel that they have in place, the chemistry and cohesiveness that they shared. The fact that even though the Eastern Conference is competitive, it's not what the West is. As a conference right now, I recognize that the Clippers have a multitude of weapons but the fact that they won the Championship last year, just figuring things out, they would've had things figured out even more this go-round, which means they would've had additional experience."
Considering the pieces the Raptors currently have in Siakam, Lowry, Ibaka, VanVleet, Anunoby, and Gasol, they certainly match up to the Clippers in terms of talent. Coming off a Championship victory together, they also have the experience that is so valuable in the postseason.
Of course, more went into Kawhi's decision to leave than a better chance to win. L.A. is his home, and it's clear he preferred to live in Southern California over Toronto. He's probably not regretting his decision, especially considering the Clippers are in no bad shape themselves.
But don't be surprised to see the Raptors make a long run these playoffs, even without Kawhi. Because whether folks like it or not, there was (and is) more to this team than Leonard and his heroics.