New Raptors Leonard, Green paying early dividends on both ends of the court

Yahoo Canada Sports

It’s one thing to get excited about how the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade improves the Raptors on both offence and defence, but it’s another thing to see that winning formula come together on a basketball court north of the border.

Raptors fans got a pretty good taste of what Leonard and Danny Green can do during Wednesday night’s 118-91 preseason win against the Brooklyn Nets in Montreal. The former San Antonio Spurs didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet, but they contributed admirably in a few categories that will surely please head coach Nick Nurse.

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We’ll start with Leonard, who appears to be enjoying his time in the great white north a little more than many had assumed. The former NBA Finals MVP looked a little rusty on Wednesday night, hitting just three of his 10 field goal attempts for 11 points in 31 minutes, but he chipped in with seven assists, facilitating the offence in a game where Kyle Lowry was ejected in the third quarter.

Take this play in the fourth, for example. After casually finding his way into the paint, Kawhi drops a beautiful bounce pass to a cutting OG Anunoby, who throws it down with a 180-slam.

It’s exactly the kind of play that makes Leonard one of the best players in the world, even on a night when he barely cracks double-digit points. But Leonard didn’t just bring it on the offensive end — the former Defensive Player of the Year added four steals to his stat line, giving Raptors fans a glimpse of the two-way hustle that has defined his game.

Not to be outdone, Danny Green put together a strong showing as well, scoring 22 points on 7/9 shooting in just 21 minutes. The 3-and-D specialist stayed true to his game, draining 6/7 three-point attempts while racking up three steals.

Green put his quick hands on display early in the third quarter with a deft steal, sparking a fast break and a slam dunk for Pascal Siakam.

It’ll take some time for Raptors fans to get used to no longer seeing DeRozan in Raptors red, but it’s safe to say that fans are already starting to gravitate to the team’s newest stars. The crowd in Montreal spent much of the night showering Leonard with MVP chants, while fans gushed about Green’s performance on social media.

Both players bring a strong two-way dynamic to a Toronto team that is hoping to land the top seed in the East for the second consecutive season.

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