In his seventh season with the Portland Trail Blazers, center Meyers Leonard sees an opening and is ready to take advantage of it. The report of Leonard’s renewed resolve comes from Mike Tokito, writing for Forbes.com. He traces the center’s history with the Blazers, then tabs what could be new as Portland tackles their 2018-19 regular season schedule.
Tokito recounts how Leonard fell in the rotation last season:
With Jusuf Nurkic established as the starting center, Leonard’s best chance at playing time last season seemed to be at backup center, especially as rookie Zach Collins established himself as a regular part of the rotation as the backup power forward. But veteran big man Ed Davis was simply too valuable at center for coach Terry Stotts not to use, essentially cutting off Leonard’s opportunities.
“Ed had done a really good job for us,” Leonard said.
With Davis now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, his spot opens up for Leonard to fight for. Tokito relays positive quotes from All-NBA teammate Damian Lillard.
Lillard, who has played with Leonard the longest, noticed a change in his teammate as players started workouts at the team’s practice facility in advance of training camp.
“This time it was a little bit different, and I told him that,” Lillard said. “He was challenging shots at the rim. He wasn’t the loud Meyers drawing attention to himself. He was just kind of doing his job, playing hard, making shots. But he just had a different look, a different energy about himself.”
Tokito also talks about Leonard’s impressions of his NBA career, the loss of his beloved Husky, Bella, and the work he’s putting in to earn a place in Portland’s rotation.