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Kawhi Leonard lands in top 10 of ESPN’s NBA player rankings

Let’s wrap up NBA player rankings season with a final look at ESPN, where they placed new Raptor Kawhi Leonard at no. 8

Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor, and also #8 on ESPN’s NBA player ranking Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

ESPN has finally unveiled their top 10 NBA players for 2018-2019, putting a merciful end—we can hope!—to 2018-19 NBA Player Rankings Season.

As you may note, ESPN published their final list on Friday, and it is now Sunday. Since it is also Wild Speculation Season, please go ahead and speculate on why this wrap-up article is so late. Your top bets:

  1. We were so distracted ranking our players for the RaptorsHQ Fantasy League we forgot to write about these rankings.
  2. We knew no rankings could ever compare with the only rankings that matter—Sean Woodley’s greatest Raptor rankings—so decided to dump this news on a Sunday afternoon.
  3. We were too busy waiting on Kawhi Leonard’s media availability and wondering “but what does it mean!?!?”

Jokes aside, let’s see what ESPN had to say about Kawhi Leonard, who is a Toronto Raptor, on their list:

8. Kawhi Leonard (Last Year: 3)

A five-spot drop is pretty steep, but as we all know, there are plenty of questions surrounding Leonard as the season approaches.

Says ESPN:

Leonard developed into a monster during the 2016-17 season, but lofty aspirations aside, we haven’t seen that version of Kawhi since then. So it’s fair to ponder whether Leonard returns to form after playing just nine games last season in San Antonio.

Yes, it’s fair. I’d still rank him ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook, but it is indeed, fair to ponder.

Leonard will start his tenure in Toronto with an open mind about potentially re-signing in 2019 free agency. But how will the constant scrutiny affect his game, as well as the upcoming bombardment of queries about what went wrong in San Antonio? If Leonard is fully healthy and committed mentally, the Raptors are serious contenders in the East.

Hey, kudos for Michael C. Wright for summing it up nicely.

We really don’t know the answers to any of these questions; no one does, and no one will until the team starts playing. Since I would very much like the aforementioned Wild Speculation Season to come to an end, I will not waste your time speculating wildly.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  1. Twelve months ago ESPN thought Kawhi Leonard was the third best player in the league.
  2. Finding out if he’s still that guy, or how close he can come to being that guy, has me about as excited going in to a season as I’ve ever been as a Raptors fan.
  3. Media day is tomorrow, practice begins Tuesday, and the first pre-season game is Saturday.

In other words, it’s almost time to find out. Let’s buckle up and enjoy the ride!