In the first of a series heading towards the season, today I present ten things to like about Jon Leuer. The second-year big man ranked as a sleeper favorite of mine in the 2011 draft, a player seemingly ripe to be a quality 3rd or 4th NBA front court player. After four years at the University of Wisconsin and one year with the Milwaukee Bucks, good fortune smiled on the Cavs, and Mr. Leuer came their way via waivers. Admittedly, I watched approximately three Bucks games last year and probably 11 minutes of Jon Leuer, but here are top reasons for optimism.
(As always, thanks to espn.com, draftexpress.com, hoopdata.com, 82games.com, basketballvalue.com, and basketball-reference.com for providing myriad stats for my consumption.)
- Of the 50 NCAA players drafted in 2011, he was 5th in pace adjusted scoring. The Badgers glacial pace masked his offensive prowess.
- Did you know he measures 6′ – 11.5″ tall in shoes?
- Over his last two NCAA seasons, he drained 38% from deep. Last year, he connected on 40% of his long twos. Need a stretch-four? I know a guy.
- He makes free throws, including 84% his senior year at UW and 75% in one NBA season.
- Last year at the combine, his max vert exceeded Tristan Thompson. He also raced through the fastest agility drill of all drafted power forwards. He probably does not play that athletically, but whatever…
- Of 86 qualified NBA power forwards last year, his turnover rate per used-possession ended 6th best. For assist to turnover ratio, he ranked 46 of 143 forwards who played more than 30 games. Knocks down jumpers…check. Takes care of the ball…check.
- He’ll be 23 for the entirety of 2012 – 2013. I better qualify that…unless Cleveland makes the Eastern Conference finals.
- In 2011 – 2012, of all rookies that played enough minutes to qualify for adjusted plus / minus; he finished as one of only three guys that was above average in PER, win shares per 48 minutes, and adjusted plus / minus.
- After reading everything above, and knowing that he spent much of the second half of last season on the bench, it is certainly reasonable to assume his defense looks nauseating. Statistics did not pick up on this though. Of 143 forwards playing 30 or more games last year, he posted the 52nd most defensive plays per minute (defensive plays = blocks + steals + charges drawn). He held opponents to average PER of 14.4. The Bucks clamped down 2.83 points better per 100 possessions with him on court. (That stat is admittedly deceptive; the Bucks second string ruled at defense). Of thirteen Milwaukee players who played 500 or more minutes, he netted the sixth best defensive rating. Anyways, that ramble of numbers was probably nauseating, but the basic point is that a wide cross-section of data did not hate his defense. His primary weakness presents itself in defensive rebounding, where he sits in the bottom fifth of all power forwards. He was a twenty-two year old rookie though; if he improves to an average-ish defensive rebounder, that should suffice from a guy expected to play 15 – 20 minutes a game.
- His PER at his natural position of power forward was 17.9, while holding his opponent to a 10.3 PER. When forced to play center, he struggled mightily to the tune of 12.9 versus 24.8. Small sample size, but I find that encouraging.
In summary, I am intrigued by Jon Leuer. Add another big, bad-ass seven-footer to the mix; and Zeller, TT and Leuer present an intriguing 23-and-younger front court rotation. Is it October 30th yet?
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