Toronto Raptors: Why Kawhi Leonard should start at shooting guard this season

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

With the new NBA season around the corner, the shooting guard position for the Toronto Raptors is up for grabs. Kawhi Leonard should be at SG to start the year.

The two Toronto Raptors guaranteed a spot in the starting five are Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. Kyle will start at point guard, but we don’t know the position Kawhi will play.

Danny Green seems like the favorite to start at shooting guard, but he is far from the only option.  In fact, Toronto has a host of different options, including:  Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, and Kawhi Leonard.

Fred VanVleet:

Out of the contenders mentioned above, not including Danny Green, Fred VanVleet seems the most likely to start at shooting guard. With his improvements last season as well as being nominated for 6th man of the year, he should have the best chance.

VanVleet was a driving force in the Raptors second unit last season. His injury at the start of the playoffs proved how vital he was to the team.

VanVleet is a natural point guard, although last season he did share the court with Lowry towards the end of games. Having both of them in the mix could result in scary, versatile lineups who are limited only by the height of their starting shooting guard.

However, using VanVleet in the starting lineup could backfire since he is the next best point guard on the team. Fred is such an important member of the Raptors bench, and their value could decrease, were he to play fewer minutes with them. The Raptors could benefit significantly by keeping him in a bench role, so he could run the offense.

Delon Wright:

Also a point guard, Delon shared most of his minutes with VanVleet in the second unit. Delon plays better when he is accompanied by a primary ball handler, which is why he could work well with either Lowry (in the first line) or VanVleet (in the second line).

The biggest contribution Delon could make to the starting lineup is his length. He could guard the taller of the two opposing guards so Lowry wouldn’t have to. If Delon has improved on his three ball, he could be a great fit by playing off the ball. Although, in this case, it may be best to keep him with Fred in the second unit to maintain their success from last season.

Norman Powell:

Powell lost his spot in last year’s rotation, so if he was slotted in as the Raptors starting shooting guard it would most likely be in a temporary role. Coach Nurse could start out the season trying multiple lineups with several different players and Powell may get the call.

It’s really hard to judge whether he could fit into the starting lineup since he played so little last season. He is the only true shooting guard from this list and so it might be worth giving him a shot if he improved this season.

If Powell were to bring back the explosiveness he had in the 2017 playoffs, it could help the starters thrive off his energy, as long as he were to keep it consistent.

Powell seems like a long-shot, but he is worth mentioning.

Kawhi Leonard:

Kawhi normally plays small forward, the position OG played last season. For Coach Nurse to incorporate both OG and Kawhi into the starting line up, he may need to shift one of them to shooting guard. Kawhi has more experience and thus may be able to adapt to the new role better.

We know that Kawhi and Lowry would be the primary ball handlers on this team, so why not have them both in the backcourt whilst also being able to play most of the same frontcourt from last season.

A lot of the teams in the league have a stronger backcourt with a weaker front court, just like the Raptors had last year. With Kawhi at the two, the Raptors would simply be replacing DeMar, without much else changing. This being OG at the small forward, JV at center, and either Serge or Siakam at power forward.

Next. Predicting the Raptors starting lineup next season. dark


The Raptors have made a couple changes to their team this year and having Kawhi start the two would allow them to keep some of the status quo, allowing them to gel better together and early on.