“He’s Not Different”: Former Raptors Teammate Fred VanVleet Dismisses Popular Belief About Kawhi Leonard

Published 11/12/2020, 6:49 AM EST
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors looks on during warm up prior to the Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trail Blazers NBA regular season game at Scotiabank Arena on March 1, 2019, in Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors win 119-117) (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


When Kawhi Leonard joined the Toronto Raptors last season, no one was sure what to expect from the team. Once the dust settled, Kawhi had an all-time great postseason that carried the Raptors to their first-ever title in franchise history.

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Although he was loved by the entire team and the country, Kawhi decided to take his talents to LA. Kawhi’s former teammate Fred VanVleet recently spoke about playing together with Kawhi last season on the “J. J. Redick Podcast.” VanVleet said:

“It was cool. And the crazy part about that is he’s not different than a lot of guys in the league. Like, there’s a lot of guys in the league that just clock in and clock out. It’s just that he’s so good that you expect him to be this all powerful being of like, making sure everybody’s good and giving this guy endorsements and taking you to dinner and putting you on a commercial. “It’s just like, he come in and do his work. He leaves he talks, he talks, he has the same conversations as everybody else.”

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Over the year, Kawhi got accustomed to his teammates. Thus, it led to him being more open and comfortable around his teammates. This led to the Raptors becoming a sensational unit in the 2019 postseason. VanVleet added, “… And I could see the growth in him throughout the year to where he got more and more comfortable because we wouldn’t have won, if he would have never opened up to us and that took place throughout the playoffs as well to where to trust.”

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Trusting your teammates is the basic building block for any basketball player. If Kawhi and the Raptors didn’t have that trust, they would have never become the 2019 NBA champions. Although he stayed in Toronto only for a single season, it was more than enough for the league to recognize him as arguably the top 3 players in the league.

What’s next for the Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 20: L.A. Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard celebrates donation of One Million backpacks from Baby2Baby, Kawhi Leonard and the L.A. Clippers to students across Los Angeles at 107th Street Elementary on August 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Baby2Baby)

Kawhi Leonard’s first season with the LA Clippers was disappointing. They were hyped as the team to beat the whole year; yet, they couldn’t even make it past the second round.

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The Clippers had a 3-1 lead in the Western Semi-Finals, but choked and allowed the Nuggets to make a phenomenal comeback. Moving forward, Kawhi needs to step up as a vocal leader and carry his team to a deep playoff run. Otherwise, his stint with the Clippers will go down as one of the worst decisions of his career.

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Aikansh Chaudhary

771 articles

Aikansh Chaudhary is an NBA columnist for Essentially Sports. Previously, he helped rank various websites using the latest SEO techniques, and wrote over 2000 articles during his stint as a freelance writer. A die hard Lakers fan, Aikansh will forever uphold LeBron James as the GOAT.

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