Meyers Leonard to the Milwaukee Bucks at #12 in tonight’s NBA Draft. That’s what we’re hearing. It makes sense, as Milwaukee is now sans Andrew Bogut and desperately needs a big even though they just acquired Samuel Dalembert (Dalembert is in the final year of his contract though so the Bucks could allow Leonard to develop for a year which would certainly be to his benefit.)
Leonard should be the third center off the board Thursday night. First will be Andre Drummond of UConn, or Kwame Brown 2.0 as I like to call him. Drummond is a fantastic talent, when he wants to play, and feels up to it. Second will be Tyler Zeller who seems like he’ll be over-drafted due to his UNC status. Then Leonard.
If the word on Leonard to Brew City is incorrect, then he might go as high as #9 to Detroit or possibly to Houston at #12 where we currently project him to go. The Rockets desperately need a big, but might be saving all their chips to make a serious run at Dwight Howard. Let’s look at how this might all make sense. Or not make sense.
Why this would be good for the Milwaukee Bucks:
Hopefully for the Bucks this won’t go down in the Hasheem Thabeet, Shawn Bradley, Darko Milicic, Michael Olokwandi, Kwame Brown category of guys who were drafted higher than they should have been simply because of height. And then all proceeded to bust big time. Leonard is to Jared Sullinger and John Shurna from Northwestern what Benjamin Disraeli was to William Gladston, and not just because they were bitter rivals (yes, indeed there’s nothing quite like making obscure allusions to Victorian Era British Prime Ministers when juxtaposing NBA big men prospects). Leonard is the opposite of Shurna/Sullinger in that he’s better suited for the NBA than for college basketball. The other two are the complete opposite.
Meyers has a skill set better suited for an open-court, run n gun system (so obviously, Milwaukee would be a great fit…if somehow Mike D’antoni replaced Scott Skiles as coach) where he doesn’t have to play as much with his back to the basket.
Why this would be bad for the Milwaukee Bucks:
Leonard always seemed to have trouble putting together two great halves for the Illini. Too often he would disappear for an entire half. Some of that was not his fault, as Bruce Weber’s motion offense is always guard-focused and the Illini guards did a very poor job with the motion this past season. Basically, they were inept at getting him the ball, which is sad because Leonard should have been the best big man in the Big Ten by far in 2012. Instead that honor belongs to Jared Sullinger, who was a two-time All-American at Ohio State.
And yet here we are, Sullinger is the one falling out of the lottery and ML will go well ahead of him. But Leonard’s biggest minus is so similar to many former University of Illinois sports stars- in between his ears. His own coach has subtly, and not so subtly attacked his attitude and mental toughness. The biggest case against Meyers being mentally tough was the disastrous loss at the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a game Illinois should have won easily and Meyers should have dominated. Instead, cameras caught him crying on the bench, and the photos and videos went viral. That day hurt his draft stock.
Bottom line: As you can see from this video and this other video we shot at the NBA combine, he’s saying all the right things. And if he’s telling the truth, he’s doing all the right things too, and that’s why his stock has shot way up during the interview and workout process. Scouts are as high on Leonard now as they’ve ever been.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too
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