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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
June 6, 2023

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Blazers’ Leonard goes to work on the boards


TUALATIN, Ore. — After the perimeter players worked on 3-point shooting at Blazers practice on Tuesday, attention turned to rookie center Meyers Leonard for an individual rebounding drill that looked as painful as it was purposeful.

On Monday night, Leonard finished with one offensive rebound in 11 minutes, but did not grab a single defensive rebound against Toronto — a fact Wesley Matthews could not miss as he ribbed teammates for certain lowlights.

“Me and (Nicolas Batum) made just as many threes as them last night. I got as many rebounds as Meyers, too,” joked Matthews, who sat out Monday’s win over Toronto with Batum.

However, Matthews was one of the loudest cheerleaders as Leonard battled against a pair of team strength and condition staffers.

Several teammates watched as assistant coach Kaleb Canales threw hard bricks off the glass, Leonard had to grab the rebound and score while the staffers pounded him with oversized, cushioned arm pads.

Leonard got hit in the face by the ball once and took foul after hard foul, but finished the drill with several strong offensive putbacks.

“I think he needs to rebound better on both ends of the floor,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Leonard. “I think rebounding is difficult to coach because it’s very instinctive, especially offensive rebounding. But defensive rebounding is reacting to the ball, knowing where your man is and where the ball is and reading the ball off the rim.”

“So there (are) a lot of instincts involved but also you have the repetition of awareness and making rebounding a priority.”