Pick 11: Portland are up again, this time with their own pick - their previous pick came via the hands of the newly-Brooklyn Nets, who gave up a high lottery pick in a deep draft for a short term rental of Gerald Wallace whom they can then renounce in order to have the cap room for Dwight Howard, should they be able to trade for him, which they can't, because they haven't the assets, because they gave their best one to Portland in exchange for a short term rental of Gerald Wallace. (It's genius, really.) Needing a bit of everything, the Blazers opt for a centre, reaching slightly to pick Meyers Leonard.
It is of note that Leonard has gone before Tyler Zeller, a man to have outperformed him at every level they have played at in their careers to date. This, then, is an upsidey-pick, made on the basis of Leonard's superior athleticism. Indeed, "upside" is the general theme of Bilas's blurb, in which he also cites Leonard as needing to "get nastier." Soft and raw, then. Good stuff.
Leonard is a genuine offensive talent, which is rare to find in a 7 footer. He should be better than B.J. Mullens in all facets of the game. But I suspect he's going to through through his career flawed, permanently tantalising, never quite maximising what he's got. At #12, however, you can live with that. And anyway, centres always maximise their potential in Portland.
Like Damian Lillard before him, Meyers's fashion choices, while questionable, suggest that he knew this was coming.
The Illini's most impressive player may have been freshman Jereme Richmond, a man with the textbook physical profile for the wing positions. Richmond is 6'7, 205lb and a hell of a leaper, and has used these tools to blossom into one of the nation's best freshman defenders. He also chips in 5 boards in 20 minutes per game, runs the court, passes well, doesn't make as many mistakes as you might imagine, and gets open off cuts for looks around the basket, where he's a decent finisher within about 10 feet. He can learn to dribble in traffic and shoot with range later; right now, he's maximising a limited skillset. Fellow freshman Meyers Leonard has shown some scoring ability for one so big, but makes plenty of mistakes, and has a little bit too much of softness about him at the moment. A summer in the weight room is much needed.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.