Behold, the future Blazer big man and all of his non-traditional glory.
As his Trail Blazers teammates shriveled inside Oracle Arena on Saturday night, the 7-foot-1 rookie Meyers Leonard blossomed against the Golden State Warriors in only his fourth career start. Leonard finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds — both professional bests and marked his first double-double in the NBA.
Leonard showed off his improving offensive awareness, but if Blazer fans still long for a back-to-the-basket center to play alongside power forward LaMarcus Aldridge — then Leonard is not your man. At least, for now.
On Saturday, Leonard put together all the elements of his offense — the double-forearm ball screen to spot-up jump shot … the off-ball screen and wide open mid-range jumper … the roll to the rim for the dunk … the early offense and transition layup. If you notice anything missing, it would be the classic isolation and post-up play, which Leonard does not possess just yet.
In Leonard’s debut season, the Blazers have mostly utilized his mobility and of his 287 plays, 82 have featured Leonard cutting to the rim while he’s only been entrusted to post up 28 times.
“I can score in the post but when double teams come and they throw different schemes at you, it becomes more difficult,” Leonard said, while examining what he needs to work on. “Your mind starts to turn, you’ve got to react quick. Guys in this league are so big and strong and athletic, you’ve got to make quick decisions. They’re very smart. So not only develop my post-up game, but the ability to catch and shoot quicker, run faster and find better spots in transition, defending the ball screen better, grabbing a rebound, getting it out and going. So many different things.”
The trio of Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, the primary reason behind the 2012-2013 Blazers setting a new franchise high mark in made 3-pointers in a season (607).
The Blazers allowing Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans to disrespect them on their home court.
Last Wednesday, Evans pulled down a career-high 26 rebounds, more than the total from the Blazers’ starting five. After the 111-93 victory, Evans poured salt on their fresh wounds by calling out the Blazers for “not being aggressive on defense,” according to Comcast SportsNet Northwest.