Hours after the Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard, a report dropped that the former Spur had no desire to play in Toronto.
Masai Ujiri pulled the trigger anyway, and his bold move may very well pay off with LeBron in LA and the East now up for grabs. Leonard represents a significant upgrade over DeMar DeRozan on both ends of the court, and his versatility makes him an easy fit into just about any system.
But what are reasonable expectations for Leonard in 2018-19? Let’s examine them, using Bovada’s season-average props as a lens:
- Over/under 23.5 points
- Over/under 6.5 rebounds
- Over/under 3 assists
While Leonard passed his physical, his health and motivation remain concerns. He missed all but nine games last season due to a mysterious quad injury, and when he did play, he sat out of back-to-backs and was on a minutes limit. Despite that, Leonard’s per-36 averages and advanced stats still bested DeRozan’s. And entering the 2018-19 season, he’ll have had seven months to get his quad right.
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Leonard is one of five players to post a usage rate of at least 31% in each of the past two seasons. That should remain largely unchanged in Toronto considering the player he’ll be replacing.
- Leonard’s usage rate, past two seasons: 31.2%
- DeRozan’s usage rate, past two seasons: 31.7%
The major difference here is efficiency. DeRozan’s effective field goal percentage (.488) ranked just 112th among 137 qualified wings and forwards. Leonard’s mark over the past two seasons (.539) would’ve ranked in the top 50.
Given a similar minutes and usage projection, Leonard is set up well to top DeRozan’s scoring output (23.0 ppg) from last season. The over on 23.5 points looks like a good bet with Toronto’s only other offseason addition being Danny Green and Leonard moving on from a Spurs offense that ranked 29th in pace.
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The rebounds prop (6.5) looks accurate, as Leonard should see a bump getting away from Dejounte Murray and Rudy Gay, who both posted top-five rebound rates at their respective positions last season. The Raptors also figure to play smaller this season after trading away Jakob Poeltl, which should mean a lot of minutes with Leonard and OG Anunoby playing together at the forward spots.
DeRozan took a big leap last season as a playmaker, ranking in the 78th percentile and averaging the sixth-most possessions per game (9.3) as a pick-and-roll ball handler. While Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright figure to pick up some of that slack, it’ll also present Leonard an opportunity to continue to improve his playmaking chops.
Going from the likes of Pau Gasol and Kyle Anderson to Serge Ibaka and Anunoby should improve Leonard’s assists outlook and will put him in a position to match his 2016-17 output (3.5 apg) and go over Bovada’s line.