Kawhi Leonard, to the surprise of no one, is the 2019 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Leonard was immense, putting the Toronto Raptors on his shoulders en route to becoming the third player in NBA history to win Finals MVP for two different teams. The other two players are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James. He is very good at basketball.
But in a bit of a surprise, Leonard did not unanimously get named Finals MVP. He picked up 10 of the 11 votes that were cast by various members of the media, but he wasn’t able to secure that pesky 11th vote. Fortunately for all of us, voting results are released, so here’s how it all broke down.
Sam Amick, The Athletic: Kawhi Leonard
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Kawhi Leonard
Hubie Brown, ESPN Radio: Fred VanVleet
Chris Haynes, Yahoo Sports: Kawhi Leonard
Mark Jackson, ABC: Kawhi Leonard
Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle: Kawhi Leonard
Jacques Monclar, beIN SPORTS France: Kawhi Leonard
Rachel Nichols, ESPN: Kawhi Leonard
Doug Smith, Toronto Star: Kawhi Leonard
Marc Spears, ESPN’s The Undefeated: Kawhi Leonard
Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: Kawhi Leonard
VanVleet was an invaluable piece to Toronto’s bench group all year long, and in the Finals, the former Wichita State star averaged 14 points on 39.3 percent shooting from three in 32.3 minutes per game. Whether he helped the team by running the offense or by operating as a second ball handler next to Kyle Lowry, VanVleet played a major role, especially with 22 points in the deciding Game 6.
While it is a bit generous to say he deserved to be Finals MVP, he certainly played well for Toronto. But then again, Hubie Brown is the man, so if he voted for VanVleet, I am inclined to believe he deserved plenty of praise for his performance.