Leonard Ready For New Expectations

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LAS VEGAS –
He was wrapped in a protective layer of patience last season. That cannot be the case anymore.

Now the Trail Blazers need Meyers Leonard. Not to be a star, because he remains as it was in the 2012-13 rookie season, a work in progress. Maybe not even to be the starter, because they acquired Robin Lopez from the Pelicans. But Leonard is an X-factor for the team that showed admirable progress before being dragged under down the stretch by a lack of depth.

summer-league-logoLeonard plays center, remains the biggest hope for the future there even after the Lopez arrival, and center is the one position uncertainty among the Portland starters. Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews at guard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum at forward – they are proven. The fifth spot remains what could be.

There is no pressure to flourish this season. But there is an increased level of expectations after a rookie season of 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.5 minutes playing behind J.J. Hickson, who has joined the Nuggets as a free agent.

“Of course,” Leonard said Saturday after the Trail Blazers lost to the Suns 83-69 at Thomas & Mack Center. “As a competitor, I always want to be in there. Last year, it was a little hard, I think, for the coaches sometimes to stick me in there. It was kind of a whirlwind season for me. This year, I think I really have a chance to have a bigger impact. We brought in Robin Lopez. I really think his NBA-center body, practicing against him will definitely help my maturation. I just have to continue to work hard to get better.

“(I am a) ton more confident, especially in my skills and just in the sense that the game is slowing down for me. Physically, I’ve always been able to keep up. But mentally I’m just like, ‘Oh, my gosh. There’s so many things going on. We’re going up and down, I’m guarding the ball screen, I’m getting back, rebounding, running the play.’ It was just so much more fast-paced than it was in college for me. Different rules, different concepts. It was tough for me. But I definitely think this year I can excel more and help our team.”

10 Comments

  1. matthew says:

    I needed to refresh your page times to look at this page for some reason, however, the info here was worth the wait around.”

  2. ParkTartBaby says:

    I’m surprised to see the negative posts about Leonard. He’s an athletic 7 footer, who can run the court, play the NBA ball screen def well, he’s got good hands and feet and can finish through contact. 5.5 ppg and 3.7 in 18 mins boards ain’t bad considering he played behind JJ’s most productive season since LBJ.

    With all the off touches going to Aldridge and Lillard, the blazers don’t need a low post scorer like Hibbert (dispite the max contract they threw at him last summer) or Z-bo.. they just need a finisher that can stay healthy and play D. I’m a fan of the pick and the investment

  3. What says:

    If he had been from Europe he would have never been drafted.

  4. Joe ilini fan says:

    Simular to his progression in college, he red-shirted last season. He is an excellent rim protector and has nice range on his shot. As athletic as Tyler Zeller. Stay tuned.

  5. ShawnK says:

    I really hope Meyers can step his game up. I know he hasn’t shown much promise, but i would really like to see him break out into a good center.

  6. jmac32 says:

    Take a look back at the 1999 NBA Draft in honor of this year’s!! http://gamesevensports.blogspot.com/2013/07/great-moments-in-nba-draft-history-1999.html

  7. J says:

    start him he has potential and if he plays bad make him sixth man (lopez start) but leave his mins the same as if he were still starting

  8. zz says:

    fact meyers is the worst C ever a waste of pick this guy can’t play D can’t score nothing