Kawhi vs. DeMar: Who had a better start to the NBA season?


The July blockbuster that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan sent the NBA world – including DeRozan himself – into a state of shock.

The agreement instantly made the Raptors' contenders and gave the San Antonio Spurs another star to position themselves alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.

Now over four months out of the trade in the NBA's 2018-19 season quarter, let's compare how Leonard and DeRozan are doing with their new clubs:

Kawhi Leonard DeMar DeRozan
Played games 15 20
Minutes per game 33.3 36.6
Points per game 24.7 24.7
Assists per game 3.0 6.3
Rebounds per game 8.5 6.0
Field-goal percentage 47.5 48.6
Percentage of three points 33.9 18.8
Free-throw percentage 84.3 85.7
Theft per game 1.7 1.0
Blocks per game 0.5 0.3
Turnovers per game 2.1 2.5

With both players standing out in their new environment, it's safe to say that the trade was a win for both sides so far.

Beginning with the team's overall success, Leonard helped propel the Raptors to the best record in the NBA in 17-4. Expectations were higher than ever for Canada's only franchise coming into season, and Nick Nurse's club met the hype due largely to Leonard's contributions.

In an effort to keep the former MVP from Finals renewed, Toronto chose to rest Leonard by facing back-to-back situations. As a result, he only qualified for 15 of the team's 21 games.

When he is on the court, he is announced. He is scoring at a hefty rate, recovering better than ever, making plays for teammates and scoring opponents defensively. His shooting percentages have fallen against his career standards but can easily increase as he continues to gain familiarity and continuity in his new environment and put the infamous injury on the court last season further and further behind him.

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On the other side of the coin, DeRozan is in a new uniform, but has been his same old trusted through 20 games with the Spurs. He leads his team at a healthy score of 24.7 points per game, accumulating those points in nearly 49 percent of pitches – easily a career high.

DeRozan is playing his most minutes since the 2013-14 season and is taking advantage of the race increase. With Spur back to the Dejounte Murray, which is missing, DeRozan is being more a facilitator than ever. The 29-year-old is thriving with additional responsibility, delivering a series of 6.3 assists per game.

While he is undoubtedly enjoying individual success, the DeRozan Spurs are currently at 10-10, which is good for ninth place in a packed Western Conference. A 21-year playoff sequence is in play, so San Antonio will need DeRozan to maintain their game level throughout the season to keep the impressive run alive.


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