Kawhi Leonard comes up one vote short of unanimous NBA Finals MVP

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The Toronto Raptors are, surprisingly, your 2019 NBA champions and Kawhi Leonard is, unsurprisingly, your 2019 NBA Finals MVP.

That latter bit was expected after Leonard averaged 28.5 point, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists with his usual elite defense to power his team to a title. Pretty standard Finals MVP stuff.

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Pretty standard that is, except for one NBA Finals MVP voter. Hall of Fame NBA coach and current ESPN Radio analyst Hubie Brown apparently liked what he saw from Raptors bench guard Fred VanVleet a bit more.

If you squint just hard enough, you can kind of see where Brown is coming from. You just need a healthy dose of recency bias toward Game 6 and a love of VanVleet’s background as an undrafted player who came out of nowhere to be a huge Finals contributor for the Raptors.

Looking at it from farther away though, voting for anyone other than Leonard is ludicrous. Even with his 22 Game 6 points and his Finals bench-record 16 3-pointers in the series, VanVleet posted less than half the points of Leonard at 14.0 per game.

If the Raptors went into the NBA Finals without VanVleet, the Warriors probably would’ve forced a Game 7 on Thursday. If the Raptors went into the NBA Finals without Leonard, we’re probably looking at a Warriors sweep, plain and simple.

Of course, the difference in accomplishment between being NBA Finals MVP and unanimous NBA Finals MVP is marginal, possibly nonexistent. In just a single season, Leonard has become one of the most beloved athletes in the Canadian history and one single vote doesn’t change that.

Kawhi Leonard did everything for the Raptors this series. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard did everything for the Raptors this series. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

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