It is always a promising sign to see a young man who has fought through tough times. In a column earlier this year on ESPN.com, Dana O’Neil chronicled some of the previously undocumented hardships that Leonard has overcome. He has fought through the adversity and managed to keep improving his game at the same time. While he could not lead Illinois to a successful season, there is no doubt that Leonard shows promise.
Combined score: 36 out of 50 possible points
Leonard has a lot of likeable qualities. He is not the type of project that comes with a lot of red flags. Whoever drafts him should be patient. His development may take a little while, but the investment of Leonard could pay big dividends.
Best fit: Dallas Mavericks
Dallas presents the best of both worlds; it is a place where Leonard can play right away but also take time to develop. There is no rush to develop young talent in Dallas. They will be a contender for the next few years, especially if they land Deron Williams this summer. Tyson Chandler left a big hole at the center position and while Leonard will not be able to fill it right away, he will be able play a similar role to that of Chandler. That is the type of situation that would be ideal for Leonard. A situation like Orlando, which potentially could have no Dwight Howard, would not be ideal because too much would be expected of him too early. Dallas is the perfect place for Leonard to grow at the rate that works for him. It also does not hurt that Dirk could teach him a thing or two about the mid-range game.
“Meyers Leonard is an extremely undervalued prospect by the public. From conversations I’ve had with NBA scouts and from what I’ve seen with my own two eyes, a lot of NBA teams have him in the top 10 of their big boards. A good comparison for him might be JaVale McGee. When I watched him in high school, people were comparing him to Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen because he’d block shots, grab offensive rebounds and catch alley-oops. Since his high school days, he has filled out and grown another inch or two. That raised his ceiling that much more. For all we know he might grow another inch. I think he’ll be able to play right away because of his defensive ability. Similar to Anthony Davis, once his offense starts coming around, which shouldn’t be long, the sky is the limit. He’s gotten so much better from year to year of me watching him that if he keeps it up at this rate he’ll be downright scary.” – Daniel Poneman of IllinoisHSBasketball.com
How good do you expect Leonard to be?
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