Erik Gundersen of The Columbian has published an extensive piece on the rising prominence of Portland Trail Blazers forward Meyers Leonard. He discusses Portland's improved plans for the fourth-year stretch shooter and looks at how those plans played out in Monday's first pre-season outing versus the Sacramento Kings.
"I've worked on shots off of that and I've also worked on it some in practice. I feel pretty comfortable with it," Leonard said. "Getting the flow and the feel of reading different situations out of it will be something I have to improve on. But as far as the simple action of coming off a flare screen, coming out of the corner, it's something I'm comfortable with."
Stotts told Leonard he had these ideas in mind and Leonard worked on coming off those screens in individual workouts over the summer. Leonard worked on shots out of these situations over the summer in Las Vegas in individual workouts. Leonard admits that it was tough at first to get used to taking these shots that "a guard would take," but says he's started to find some success and will continue to work on these situations.
Coach Terry Stotts offers praise for Leonard's progress:
"I think the growth that Meyers has made, he's improved as a shooter, obviously his confidence has improved, he's getting his shot off quicker," Stotts said. "Reading spacing and where the shot is going to come and having the confidence to go up and take it, that's all been going in that direction. So I don't think it was a light bulb but when you have a guy who can shoot from the perimeter you have to find ways to get him shots."
Gundersen also chronicles the growing respect that Leonard's teammates have developed for him, plus the advantages of having a shooting big man stretch the defense. It's definitely worth a look.