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NBA Finals

NBA Finals 2019: Which player has the most to gain in this series?

#raps dubs

The NBA Finals get underway on Thursday, May 30, from Toronto as the Raptors host the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors.

The Finals series provides a chance for many on both side to either cement, build-on, or create their legacies in the NBA.

We asked our experts: Who has to the most to gain with a win in the 2019 NBA Finals?

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): For me, it's Kawhi Leonard. Yes, his legacy is already cemented as a Raptors' legend by leading the team to their first-ever NBA Finals birth, but he has so much more to gain with a win.

Just a year ago many were saying they don't know if Kawhi could return to his MVP-form from two years ago. Or that he only won a championship because he was lucky to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs organization surrounded by future Hall of Famers. He'll never be able to be the go-to-guy on a winning team.

Now is the time to silence all that noise.

If Kawhi Leonard can get the Raptors four more wins he'd enter a stratosphere not many thought he would ever enter. We know all the praise he would get for bringing the trophy north of the border for the time first time ever - we get all that. But he would also have beaten the team that's been dominating the NBA for the last five seasons. With four more wins, his run would be solidified as arguably the greatest playoff run of all time. He'd go from being one of the best players in the league right now to fitting into the top 15 players of all-time discussion.

Four more wins changes everything for a franchise, but for Kawhi, four more wins changes his entire legacy.

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Stephen Curry.

There's no debating Curry's legacy - the only unanimous league MVP in league history, the fulcrum of this Warriors dynasty, and the manner in which his long-range shooting has revolutionized the game.

However, after four Finals' trip, the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award still eludes him.

No doubt, he has had multiple noteworthy Finals performances already but by adding a Finals MVP award to his collection, he would have ticked off all boxes to join the conversation for the greatest point guard of all-time.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I'll have to agree with Yash and go with Stephen Curry.

Curry, who is a generational talent capable of doing things we've never seen and are likely to never see again, is without question one of the best 10-15 players to ever lace them up. Yet another Finals win along with a Finals MVP would catapult him into the discussion of being one of the five best ever.

Just think of the resume Curry could put forth: Five straight Finals appearances with a 4-1 record in the Finals that includes a three-peat as well as three victories over LeBron James, who is unquestionably a top-five player of all-time in addition to the regular season successes of two regular-season MVP awards and an abundance of records.

If you were to add in a Finals MVP honour, there wouldn't be too many players with a list of achievements that compares once you take his lasting impact into consideration.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm going to go with Kyle Lowry.

I understand what's at stake for Kawhi, his legacy and his lingering decision this offseason. I also understand that Steph has yet to get that elusive Finals MVP trophy despite being the Warriors' best player throughout their reign.

But Lowry seems to have this false personification that he doesn't perform in the playoffs. He's had a couple rough games here and there this postseason, but the majority of his outings this playoffs has been terrific, especially in this past series against the Bucks. And that's not even counting the little things he does that don't show up on a box score - the way he manages the pace of the game, the way he helps anchor the Raptors' defence and his willingness to always sacrifice his body for the good of the team.

Lowry is the engine that keeps the Raptors running. Even though Kawhi is Toronto's best player, this team would not be where it is, in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, without their captain in Lowry.

He has a chance to make a statement on the game's biggest stage, matching up against one of the best players to ever play the game in Curry. Lowry has grinded through seven seasons with the Raptors and has had a rollercoaster of a year to lead this franchise to The Finals.

It would be a storybook-like ending for him to put together an impressive stretch of games to silence the critics and prove once and for all that he's built for big moments like this upcoming series.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): It's time for Draymond Green to shine.

It's no doubt Draymond Green has been a key cog in the run to the Finals, but his value to the Warriors will be in the spotlight even more against the Toronto Raptors.

Without Kevin Durant for at least the early stages of the NBA Finals, Green's defence against the long, athletic Raptors will be crucial to slowing down the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, with the Warriors looking their best with Green driving the fast-break and pressuring the defence in transition.

After his slow start to the season and troubles shooting the ball throughout the regular season, many had doubted whether Green was still the same player, but as the stakes got higher with each series, he took his game to a new level.

A starring role in the Warriors winning a third-straight title, will not only be an 'I told you so' for Green, but could force the Warriors hand in giving him a lucrative extension in the summer.

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