2019 NBA Playoffs free agency stock watch: Kawhi Leonard keeps helping his cause, while Kyrie Irving has questions

Chase Hughes
NBC Sports Washington

2019 NBA Playoffs free agency stock watch: Kawhi Leonard keeps helping his cause, while Kyrie Irving has questions originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

This summer's free agent class in the NBA is absolutely loaded. Here is a look at some players that have helped and hurt their stock in this year's NBA postseason...


Kawhi Leonard, SF, Raptors

This is the most obvious case of a guy helping his free agent cause in the playoffs. A year ago at this time, Leonard was coming off a year in which he only played nine games due to a quadriceps injury. He missed the Spurs' first round playoff series and was the subject of a swirl of trade rumors. Even during this regular season, as the Raptors cruised to the No. 2 seed in the East, Leonard missed 22 games, mostly due to load management. But any questions about his health and what he can provide his team when it counts most have been put to rest. He is one of the best players in the NBA both on offense and defense. His playoff numbers - 31.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 40.8 3PT% - are absurd.

Khris Middleton, SG, Bucks

Middleton is benefiting a lot from Milwaukee's run to the conference finals by raising his game in the postseason and getting a lot of deserved credit for their success. He is averaging 19.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists while knocking down 46.7 percent of his threes. The points, assists and three-point numbers are all up from his regular season norms. Middleton is also playing good defense per usual and will only be 27 when he hits the open market, if the Bucks let him of course.

Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors

Few believe that Thompson will actually hit free agency and especially after Warriors owner Joe Lacob professed his commitment to the star shooting guard, but if Thompson does choose to leave this summer, he has only helped his cause in recent weeks. With Kevin Durant injured, Thompson has stepped up to remind everyone that he can be the second-best player on a championship level team. In this year's playoffs, he is averaging 18.8 points while shooting 40.4 percent from long range.


Kyrie Irving, PG, Celtics

Irving wanted the chance to lead his own team and he experienced the potential drawbacks of that role this postseason with the Celtics. They underachieved and he took a large share of the blame. He was scrutinized for his play, as he shot just 38.5 percent overall and 31 percent from three in the playoffs, and he took heat for his leadership. Irving will still get big contract offers from many teams, but that list of teams may be a bit smaller than it would have otherwise been.

Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bucks

Mirotic found initial success with Milwaukee this season after getting traded there by the Pelicans, but a thumb injury in March kept him out until the start of the playoffs. He has since returned, but has not been the same, averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting just 39.7 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three. That is a far cry from the 15.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 43.1 three-point percentage he posted in last year's postseason.

DeMarcus Cousins, C, Warriors

Cousins reportedly may return by the end of these playoffs, but remains out due to a torn right quad. It's all about bad injury luck for Cousins, who missed a year due to a torn Achilles and now has a new injury to worry about. He has played in only two playoff games and averaged 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 30.8 percent from the field. Cousins is likely to lose even more money this summer due to injury and it's a real shame for a guy who is one of the most talented big men in the game.


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