The current NBA defending champions, Toronto Raptors, barely got past the Brooklyn Nets 119-118 on Saturday night to win their 14th straight game. The only non-US based team in the NBA, is showing that the team is not all about Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors were surprise champions last year. They beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference last year, 4 games to 2. The Bucks were playing so well that the league awarded Greek player Giannis Antetokounmpo as the regular season MVP.

It was an even bigger surprise that they beat five-time finalists and then back-to-back defending champions, Golden State Warriors.

It was all thanks to Kawhi Leonard. Scoring 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game, he lifted the underdog Raptors to win their first NBA championship. He scored 732 points in the postseason. It made him the third-best postseason scorer of all time behind Lebron James and Michael Jordan. He got his second Finals MVP award and second championship ring.

Then, Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2019 off-season. Today, the Leonard-less Raptors are still on a roll. They are in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the still top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Their 14th straight win last Saturday made them the third-best team in the NBA with 39-14, just behind conference leaders.

The Raptors are bringing it. According to Fox Sports, Fred VanVleet scored 29, Pascal Siakam scored 20 points, and Terrence Davis added another 20. Every other Raptor in the roster scored at least a point.

Siakam is doing the heavy lifting post-Leonard, averaging 23.5 points this year compared to 16.9 last year. VanVleet is also helping, with his scoring average up from 11 to 17.7 per game. OG Anunoby, who took over Leonards place in the starting roster, doubled his rebounding average and raised his scoring from 7.0 to above double digits with 10.2 while playing only 29 minutes a game.

Kawhi Leonard only spent one season with the Raptors. He played for the San Antonio Spurs before moving to the Raptors last year. It looks like he taught the Canada-based team how to win championships, and they are taking that lesson to heart.

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers (L) is fouled by the Lakers' Anthony Davis in the Clippers' 111-106 NBA victory over the Lakers GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Jayne Kamin-Oncea 12/26/2019 12:50:09