Kawhi's detachment from Raptors' baggage makes him the key to moving on

Posted April 14, 2019

In every series they play this spring there can be an argument that Leonard will be on equal footing with the other team's best player or, in the case of the Magic - the best player - a big step ahead.

With Isaac out, Wes Iwundu (5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds) will get the start at small forward and even though he's been a big part of their rotation, Isaac has a plus-2.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) against Iwundu's plus-0.6 and Iwundu's backup will be Jarell Martin (minus-0.6 Defensive Box Plus/Minus), which hurts the Magic's depth, particularly on defense. They don't play at a fast pace, but all five of their starters can knock down the three-ball in a half-court set, something we see them run relatively frequently. Reliable. Nikola Vucevic has been a double-double machine, posting those numbers in more than 60 games this season, and he will again be looked to provide a strong foundation for the Magic.

The Lakers would go back to being amongst the NBA's elite, while the Clippers would slide back into obscurity.

The ultimate test for Siakam will be this post-season, where scouting reports from opposing teams will pay much more attention to the intricacies in his game.

Someone forgot to tell the Clippers that they were supposed to be bad.

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Despite the addition of LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, the team was still a failure as they missed the playoffs.

Teague played in 42 games for the Minnesota this season, averaging 12.1 points and a career-best 8.2 assists in 30.1 minutes. "I know that if anybody's done more than this kid, has improved more, has impacted the team more and continued to improve from even, jeez, 20 games ago", Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

The Lakers also dealt with injuries to key role players - including Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart - and they shut down James for the rest of 2018-19 in late March. That's what's fun to me: creating a group game plan, going out there and executing and not allowing other teams to do what they want to do.

The Raptors went and got Leonard not only to give themselves the best chance they've ever had to win an NBA Championship, but to improve their odds. It was a slight improvement from last season when the team finished the year on a 35-47 record.

The Magic can be the sixth, seventh or eighth seed.

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The Hornets won 36 games last season, so with 39 wins this season, they made a three-win improvement. Not quite the outcome the Lakers expected when the season began. Green went to the playoffs in each of those seasons and made two appearances in the NBA Finals. Kaminsky is at the end of his rookie-scale contract, and the Hornets can restrict his free agency by making a qualifying offer of about $5 million next season.

Johnson's departure, while certainly hard to deal with, does provide Buss with the opportunity to put the franchise back on track if she can bring in the right person to replace him.

Johnson took over in the Lakers front office in February 2017.

The Los Angeles Clippers have a far different outlook.

Terrence Ross came off the bench to score a season-high 35 points, and the playoff-bound Orlando Magic ended the Charlotte Hornets' season with a 122-114 victory on Wednesday night. If they fall short in their quest, it won't be for lack of effort.

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