Would the Toronto Raptors have been better than the current Clippers if Kawhi stayed?

Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers, begging the question; would the Raptors have been better than the current Clippers?

The Toronto Raptors were hoping to run things back next season and retain their crown. Once they lost their superstar, that became substantially more difficult. The team was gutted to lose Kawhi Leonard via free agency, as he ultimately joined the organization that was not so quietly recruiting him during the season, the Los Angeles Clippers.

The impact of the Kawhi’s departure cuts much deeper due to how rare such actions occur. Leonard’s free agency decision is stunning. Players of his calibre do not simply do not leave their team following a championship victory. It’s one of the most unusual departures in sports history.

In order for the Clippers to convince Leonard to sign with them, they needed to make a blockbuster deal. That was the impetus for the trade that landed the Clippers All-Star forward, Paul George.

L.A. gave up a lot to pry the MVP candidate from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers parted with a haul of the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026 and 2021 and 2023 via the Miami Heat), and the right to swap picks in 2023 and 2025.

The Clippers now have a team that should be top contenders to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. On top of acquiring Leonard and George, they re-signed important pieces such as Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, and JaMychal Green. The Clippers drafted a center, Mfiondu Kabengele, who had an impressive run in the NBA Summer League. They also traded for Maurice Harkless, a two-way forward who should be impactful off the bench. With the Clippers now mostly formed, we can make a true comparison.

Who would win a dream battle between the Current Clippers and the team that Raptors fans were pining for, one that includes Leonard? Could a Kawhi-led Raptors group take out this current L.A. squad?

In order to evaluate the matchup let’s take a closer look at the hypothetical Raptors team. A decision first needs to be made on whether Danny Green would also have joined Toronto. Despite Green believing that Toronto didn’t have room for him, it appeared as though his decision hinged on where Leonard landed. As such, we will look at a universe where Leonard and Green re-sign.