Joe Swide of Portland Roundball Society runs down some Portland Trail Blazers history to produce a thought piece on rookie center Meyers Leonard, concluding that he's a break from the mold cast by his predecessors.
It often seems like the Blazers aren't quite sure what to do with Meyers Leonard. Last night, on the second night of a back-to-back and with the team trailing by as much as 27, he played just 6:27. At times, he has seemed ahead of his development curve, showing off a startling proficiency scoring in small bunches; more often, he has seemed lost on the court and lacking in even basic spatial awareness. But if the team seems undecided in how best to use him, he confounds Blazer fans twice as much. For of course, Meyers Leonard engages perhaps the most fundamental part of Blazers anxiety: the young center dread. You might be familiar with this strain of Blazer fandom, but let's take a trip back in time to examine why, beyond his frustrating and odd mix of skill and incompetence, fans so fixate on Leonard.
Over-reaching psychologists studying Portland's tumultuous history with centers might see the continued failures as attempts to fill the void left by the Walton heartbreak, or to make up for the embarrassment of the LaRue Martin pick, or maybe a Napoleonic desire by a small market team to put forth the biggest, most classic type of flagship player. Pragmatists might simply say Portland keeps catching a bad beat with the type of talent every team would gamble on. If Meyers Leonard may never become a foundational talent, he nevertheless lacks all of the fatal flaws of his predecessors. He isn't playing under the constant shadow of expectation like Oden, Bowie, or Martin, nor does he have the persona of Walton or the legend of Sabonis. And so maddening as his play might be, he may be just the prescription for Blazermanic depression: a regular center project, unburdened by a sense of history.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter