If you are a basketball fan you probably heard of the blockbuster trade that sent Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in return for Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard and swingman Danny Green.
Well, the NBA season is now in its 8th week so it seems like an appropriate time to ask the question: who won the trade? To answer this question I’ll be considering 3 categories: the overall records of the Raptors versus the Spurs, the impact that each of the star players have had on their respective teams, and the impact of the role players on their respective teams.
This one is a clear win for the Toronto Raptors. They hold the best record in the NBA with 21 wins and only 5 losses for an incredible win percentage of .808. Their league-best record makes them the number one team in the Eastern Conference. They have looked like a formidable team beating some really good teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics and even last year’s champs, the Golden State Warriors (yes, I know Steph and Draymond were not playing but hey, a win is a win).
On the other hand, the Spurs hold an 11 win 14 loss record meaning they sit at number 14 in the Western Conference. That’s just one spot higher than the worst team in the conference, the Phoenix Suns. It might not be fair to compare conference positions considering the Western Conference is notorious for being tougher than the East. But even just by looking at the win/loss records, it is clear that that the Raptors come out on top.
Impact of the Star Players
I loved Demar as a Raptor but I have to say, Kawhi is just a lot better for the Raptors. He’s currently averaging 26.1 ppg, 49 percent field goal percentage and he’s shooting 36.2% from the 3 point line. Compared to that Demar is averaging 24 ppg, a 48% field goal percentage and a dismal 17.6% from behind the arc. With Kawhi the Raptors also get a two-time defensive player of the year which is a huge boost to their defence. Kawhi is easily one of the top 5 players in the league and his presence on the court is a huge boost to the team. Demar is performing well for the Spurs and he has fit well into their system but it just has not been the same as the impact that Kawhi has had. Overall, I think that the Raptors win this one too.
Impact of the Role Players
Role players are a necessity for any team chasing a championship. They provide support and augment the star players. With this trade, the Raptors got Danny Green, a player with years of experience, championship pedigree and a solid 3 and D player. On the other hand, the Spurs got Jakob Poeltl, a player in just his third year in the league. Now there is a possibility that Poeltl could bloom into a good centre and role player but on the current Spurs roster, there just is not a lot of time available for him to play. This shows by the measly 12 minutes per game he’s played this season. Danny Green, however, has been averaging 29 points per game and is shooting 42 percent from the 3 point line. It is pretty clear that the Raptors win this category as well
Overall, I think that it is safe to say that the Raptors won this trade and if Kawhi signs an extension with the Raptors this season, this might just be Masai Ujiri’s best move as president yet.