The 2019 NBA Finals will be filled with stars.
The Warriors, when healthy, have arguably the best starting lineup of all-time while the Raptors have Kawhi Leonard, who has carried the team throughout the playoffs.
— OptaLarry🏀 (@OptaLarry) May 24, 2019
Golden State will be trying to win its third straight championship and fourth title in five years. Toronto, on the other hand, is making the first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.
Here’s a ranking of every player in 2019 NBA Finals:
1. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard has been fantastic all season long and he has turned it up a notch recently. He’s scoring 31.2 points and grabbing 8.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs for Toronto. He has been the best player in the postseason and hit the most clutch shot in Raptors history — a buzzer-beater in Game 7 against the 76ers.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 13, 2019
2. Stephen Curry
This ranking is basically 1A and 1B, more than 1 and 2, as Curry has returned to his MVP form since Kevin Durant went out with a calf strain in Game 5 of the Warriors’ second-round series with the Rockets. Curry is averaging 35.8 points and shooting 41.7% from 3-point range in his last five games, all Golden State wins. Curry has a strong chance to take home his first Finals MVP award.
3. Kevin Durant
Durant, who has been ruled out for at least Game 1 of the finals, was having a stellar postseason before the calf injury. He averaged 34.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 51.3% from the field in 11 playoff games. He’d undoubtedly be higher on this list if he wasn’t hurt.
4. Klay Thompson
Thompson’s two-way versatility cannot be overlooked. He’s a knock-down shooter who creates space for his teammates, as opponents cannot help off of him. He’ll also likely spend time guarding Leonard and should have a chance at least to slow him down. He’s extremely valuable to Golden State.
5. Pascal Siakam
The 6-9 forward had a breakout season for the Raptors in 2018-19 and is one of three finalists for the Most Improved Player award. He has continued to be a reliable scorer in the playoffs but has been inconsistent at times and also struggles from beyond the arc (28.9% in the postseason). Strong performances from Siakam could help swing the series in the Raptors’ favor.
6. Draymond Green
Green failed to make the All-Star team for the first time since 2014-15. However, the Warriors forward has once again raised his game in the postseason. He’s continued to be a lock-down defender while averaging close to a triple-double through 16 playoff games (13.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.2 assists). He’s a big reason Golden State continued its run.
7. Kyle Lowry
Lowry finally has a chance to play in the finals after suffering through multiple playoff heartbreaks with the Raptors. He has been streaky this season, yet he’s still an excellent facilitator who can knock down jump shots. He’ll be another key to the Raptors’ success against the Warriors.
8. Marc Gasol
How good does the Raptors’ trade for Gasol look now? Toronto acquired the 34-year-old veteran center from the Grizzlies before the deadline for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a second-round pick. Gasol is not the reliable scorer he once was, but he’s a strong rebounder and creator who can also stretch the floor — he’s shooting 40% from 3-point range in the playoffs.
9. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala’s strength is defense and he’ll almost certainly spend a majority of the series guarding Leonard or Siakam. Limiting either of those two could lead to the Warriors easily completing a three-peat. While he has picked it up in the playoffs, Iguodala has taken a step back on the other end of the floor, which pushed him down this list. The 35-year-old missed Game 4 of the Western Conference finals with a calf injury.
10. DeMarcus Cousins
The star center has had terrible injury luck over the last few seasons. Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Warriors in July and missed the team’s first 45 games as he continued to recovery from a torn Achilles. He then tore his left quadriceps muscle during the Warriors’ first-round series in mid-April. A fully healthy Cousins, who is questionable for Game 1 against Toronto, would be ranked much higher.
11. Fred VanVleet
VanVleet struggled early in the playoffs but has since reached double-digit scoring totals in three consecutive games and he’s shooting 82.4% from 3-point range (17-for-25) during that time frame. VanVleet was just 5 for 33 on attempts from beyond the arc over his first 15 playoff games this postseason. The Raptors hope he stays hot.
12. Serge Ibaka
13. Kevon Looney
Looney has proved he’s worth the extra minutes he has received with Durant and Cousins out. The 6-9 forward averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds during the Western Conference finals. Coach Steve Kerr recently called him one of Golden State’s “foundational pieces.”
14. Norman Powell
15. Jordan Bell
16. Danny Green
Green averaged 10.3 points during the regular season and hit a career-best 45.5% of his shots from 3-point range on 5.4 attempts per game. Green, however, is in the middle of a slump as he has missed nine straight 3-point attempts over his last three games. He told reporters earlier this week he plans to “keep shooting.”
17. Shaun Livingston
18. OG Anunoby
OG Anunoby will be a major factor if he can play in the series. The 21-year-old wing has been out since undergoing an emergency appendectomy in mid-April. He’s “doing better,” coach Nick Nurse told reporters earlier this week and the team is “quietly optimistic” he can return at some point against the Warriors, according to the Toronto Sun. If healthy, he’s a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions and would help the Raptors match up more effectively with Golden State’s perimeter threats.
19. Alfonzo McKinnie
20. Quinn Cook
21. Andrew Bogut
22. Jonas Jerebko
23. Damian Jones
24. Malcolm Miller
25. Jeremy Lin
Lin has had a solid NBA career, but he has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and has played just 26 total minutes in the playoffs this year. He won’t be much of a factor this series.
26. Jodie Meeks
27. Patrick McCaw
28. Jacob Evans
29. Eric Moreland
30. Chris Boucher