Who Really Won The DeRozan For Leonard Deal?

Photo Credit: Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

Who Really Won The DeRozan For Leonard Deal?


Rejoice NBA fans everywhere! The second biggest player movement story (cheers LeBron) is finally sealed. While Toronto was not initially seen as a suitor, they’ve managed to pull off a coup and a half even if its only for a year. Or have they? Many see this as a win for Toronto, getting a borderline MVP and Defensive Player of the Year (twice) winner, while giving up a score first All-Star guard. However, have the Spurs been the one to take the win?

Heres’s the actual deal,

Toronto receive: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green
San Antonio receive: DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl and a heavily protected first round pick

Initial glance, and on paper, Toronto win this. One All-Star, a rotation big and a first round pick for an MVP candidate and one of the most solid 3 and D shooting guards in the league. Danny Green doesn’t demand touches, and spaces the floor perfectly for Valanciunas and his low post work, Lowry and Leonard slashing ability, no doubt Green was a good get. Leonard is MVP worthy, if he plays. Early reports indicated he wasn’t happy and could sit out the year, however recently Woj has reported he’s “warming up” to playing.

In my view, San Antonio are winners here though. DeRozan has always been a flat out scorer, but being the no.1 and essentially only option at Toronto for years has meant he was a volume scorer. Career slash of 44.8/28.9/82.7 isn’t ideal. His 3 point shot has improved, shooting 31.6% last year. This is where San Antonio, and more importantly, Gregg Popovich steps in. Famous for getting the best out of all his player Pop has a system that not only spreads the load, but also takes pressure off big names. With Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay, DeRozan won’t be heavily relied upon, and will be able to focus on making slashes to the basket, spotting up for kick out threes off the Spurs twin towers post work. This spreading of the load will allow DeRozan to very likely put up similar scoring numbers, at a far more efficient rate.

On to Pöltl. As mentioned, Pop has a inate ability to get the best out of everyone. Remember Thiago Splitter? During his 5 years at the Spurs Splitter was a productive if unspectacular big, in limited minutes. He’s shipped off to Atlanta, for the 15-16 season, played 36 games, shipped to Philly, plays 8 and has now retired. Shows how well Pop can squeeze talent out of players. Pöltl has that same potential, if not a higher ceiling, as Splitter. Having him able to play behind Gasol and Aldridge will do wonders for Pop’s minute management of the older big boys. Coming off an 82 game season as the first big off the bench for the Raptors, the Spurs figure to use him in a very similar role. Can’t argue with 64.1% career shooting and 13.4 points 9.3 boards per 36 last year. Very handy rotation piece.

With the Raptors side, Leonard is a risk. Does he play? Does he sign on after this year? Does he even produce at the level we know he can? There are too many question marks around him for this to be a win. He could prove to be the missing piece in Toronto’s push for Eastern supremacy. When fit and playing he really is MVP worthy. But we just don’t know. Danny Green is a player all contenders need. He’s been an integral and undervalued piece to San Antonio for years, guarding the second best wing or point guard at an elite level and providing great floor spacing, but he doesn’t move the needle enough on his own.

However, with so many questions around Leonard, it cannot be as simple as Toronto win this. San Antonio have an All-Star that will actually play. If DeRozan can come in and be as great a scorer as he has been, potentially improving his efficiency, San Antonio will be laughing that they managed to steal this from the Raptors.

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