We continue our look at NBA draft prospects the Rockets should target. So far we've looked at Tyler Zeller, Moe Harkless, and Perry Jones III; today we look at Meyers Leonard, a center from Illinois.
Leonard is a good prospect, looks to be solid in almost every aspect of his game, but he does come with a few question marks. He played well last year, but did nothing as a freshman raising the question of him being a 1-year wonder. Leonard averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during his sophomore year after playing just 8 minutes per game as a freshman. My initial thought is his ceiling isn't that high, reminds me of guys like Aaron Gray and Cole Aldrich, but scouts seem to like him and think the improvement he made last season, will continue at the NBA level.
Scouts like his athleticism, his shot blocking ability, and his touch from the free-throw line and with his jumper. His weaknesses, he'll need to add more weight to avoid being pushed around in the post, doesn't have a good go-to post move on offense, and he sometimes gets lazy in his game and takes too many outside jumpers. Scouts seem to think his upside is that of Robin Lopez, if Leonard reaches that level, that's a steal at the end of the lottery.
I think Leonard would be a good fit for the Rockets who have an abundance of power forwards, but almost nothing at center. Marcus Camby is a free-agent and we saw Samuel Dalembert fade towards the end of last season. They have to get a young center this off-season and through the draft is their best option. Sure they have assets to trade, but what team is willing to give away a young, talented big? The Rockets have plus defenders in Kyle Lowry and Chandler Parsons on the perimeter, but they need a rim protector; any offense Leonard gives you is a bonus, though he does have a good offensive game.
His draft projection varies, but most have him available for the Rockets at 14th overall. NBAdraft.net projects him to go at 17, Draft Express at 15, NBA.com at 15, Hoopshype at 15, and Mynbadraft.com at 14.