Kawhi Leonard voted NBA's best player by coaches, executives and scouts

Kawhi Leonard (NBA Getty Images)

Following a crazy free agency that saw the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker change teams, ESPN's Tim Bontemps asked 20 coaches, executives and scouts from around the league their opinion on a number of topics.

Bontemps started by asking who they believe is the best player in the NBA. The results? Leonard receiving the most votes with 12, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo (6) and James Harden (2).

Leonard had a career year in 2018-19. He missed 22 games in the regular season mostly due to "load management," but he appeared in all 24 of Toronto's postseason games and led the Raptors to their first-ever championship with averages of 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals.

It made for one of the most dominant postseason runs we've ever seen, punctuated by him hitting one of the most iconic shots in NBA history to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

"Because if he plays every game in the playoffs, he's the best player in the world," one executive said of Leonard . "And if you can be good enough the rest of the way to get there, then great."

Bontemps added that some gave 15-time All-Star LeBron James "strong consideration" for the crown of the best player in the league, but nobody ultimately selected him.

MORE: Who are the best players in the NBA?

Widely considered to be the best player in the league, it should come as no surprise that the Clippers landing Leonard, as well as Paul George via trade, was the most liked move of the summer. The Clippers are also now the favourites to be the Western Conference champions and to win the title next season.

Leonard's move to Los Angeles, however, wasn't the most surprising move of the offseason. Al Horford signing with the Philadelphia 76ers and D'Angelo Russell being traded to the Golden State Warriors each earned six votes, with JJ Redick joining the New Orleans Pelicans getting two votes.

"I didn't see Miami giving up [Josh] Richardson to sign Jimmy Butler," an executive said , "and I didn't see the Sixers punting on Jimmy to replace him with Al Horford."

With Leonard now in the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference is projected to be a two-team race between the 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks received 12 votes to be the conference champions this season, the other eight votes going to the 76ers.

The Bucks and 76ers both received two votes to win the title, giving them the second-best odds behind the Clippers.

For more on the survey, click here .

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