NBA Finals 2019: Raptors' Kawhi Leonard 'closing in' on best player title, Shaq says

Shaquille O’Neal had high praise for Kawhi Leonard following Toronto’s 105-92 victory over Golden State in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday.

The Hall of Fame center praised the Raptors superstar, calling him the second best player in the league.

“A lot of people say he’s No. 3. He just moved up to the second-best player in the league in my opinion,” O’Neal said after the contest. “I like where he came from. He wasn’t a high draft pick. This right here is the true definition of hard work. I love this kid. I love his demeanor. He never cries. He never complains. He plays the same way all the time. So right now I’m saying he’s the second best player. Closing in on the best player in the game.”

When asked who stood atop the basketball world O’Neal clarified it was still LeBron James. But he appears to believe he’s surpassed the likes of Golden State’s Kevin Durant and other elite players.

Leonard posted 36 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4, notching his third consecutive Finals game scoring at least 30 points. His Raptors are now ahead of the two-time defending champion Warriors 3-1 in the series and have a chance to close it out in Toronto and secure their first ever NBA title.

Game 5 will tip off at 9 p.m. ET Monday at Scotiabank Arena, and Leonard will have an opportunity to show why he’s among the world’s best in what’s arguably the biggest game of his career.