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Raptors Back Among Championship Contenders with Kawhi

DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors
Four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan is the centerpiece of a trade package the Raptors used to acquire Kawhi Leonard. (Photo by Javier Rojas/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
  • The Raptors and Spurs have swapped All-Stars
  • How does the blockbuster trade affect 2019 NBA Championship odds?
  • Will Kawhi Leonard stay in Toronto?

Less than a week ago, we reported that the Toronto Raptors had become the favorites to acquire two-time All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

And obviously, that online sports betting site knew what they were talking about. The Raptors and Spurs finalized a blockbuster trade this morning (July 18th) that sees Leonard head north to Toronto, while a package including four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan is sent the other way.

Here is the full trade:

Toronto Raptors Get San Antonio Spurs Get
Kawhi Leonard DeMar DeRozan
Danny Green Jakob Poeltl
Protected 2019 1st Round Pick

*The 2019 first-round pick is top-20 protected. If it lands in the top 20, it turns into two 2020 second-round picks.

For the Spurs, they felt getting a proven All-Star in DeMar DeRozan, along with a solid bench player and a first-round pick, was the best they were going to get for Kawhi. Gregg Popovich knew the longer he waited to make a move, the less leverage he would have.

For the Raptors, this move feels like they were just ready to move on from DeRozan. Kawhi has already expressed he has no interest in playing in Toronto, so they have essentially just traded their franchise centerpiece for a one-year rental, if Leonard even plays.

Kawhi Leonard vs DeMar DeRozan

Kawhi Leonard
DeMar DeRozan

2 All-Star Appearances 4
1 NBA Championships 0
2 All-NBA Teams 2
16.3 PPG in Regular Season 19.7
16.9 PPG in Playoffs 21.9
54.9 eFG% in Regular Season 46.7
57.6 eFG% in Playoffs 42.2

Raptors Pull Among Eastern Conference Favorites with Kawhi

Online sports betting sites clearly believe the Raptors won the trade, at least in the short-term. Their odds at Bovada went from +5500 all the way down to +1800, while the Celtics and 76ers stayed put at +550 and +1600, respectively.

Kawhi projects to be a better fit in Nick Nurse’s new offense that demands ball movement, and the four-time All-Defensive Team selection and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is certainly an upgrade over DeRozan on the defensive end.

But more importantly, Leonard is an NBA Finals MVP and has proven himself in the playoffs.

Prop Odds
Odds Kawhi Leonard Plays for the Raptors in 2018-19 Season 1-9
Odds Kawhi Leonard Plays for the Raptors in 2019-20 Season 19-1
Odds Kawhi Leonard wins 2019 NBA MVP 9-1
Odds Kawhi Leonard wins 2019 Defensive Player of the Year 7-1
Over/Under PPG for Kawhi Leonard in 2018-19 23.5

No One Believes in DeRozan and the Spurs

Not to suggest anyone believed Kawhi Leonard’s San Antonio Spurs were going to make it out of the incredibly difficult Western Conference, but now they find themselves outside of the top five contenders in the West.

Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA. But he’s going to have a tough time finding a way for LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, two players who specialize in the mid-range, to exist in the same offense.

Prop Odds
Odds the Spurs make the 2019 NBA Playoffs 4-5
Odds DeMar DeRozan wins 2019 NBA MVP 19-1
Over/Under PPG for DeMar DeRozan in 2018-19 26.5
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After receiving a bachelor's degree in communications, Matt spent two years with Rogers TV as a host, producer, and play-by-play commentator. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's editor-in-chief and sports betting expert.