RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jon LeuerPosted by KDoyle on May 31st, 2011
Player Name: Jon Leuer
Height/Weight: 6’10/ 228 lbs.
NBA Position: Small/Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: Late First/Early Second Round
Overview: As a freshman playing for Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers, Leuer often times looked lost on the floor—nearly a “deer in the headlights” type of lost. He is not one of the more athletic big men in this year’s draft—this was especially apparent during his early years as a Badger—but his flawless shot and ability to create his own shot developed into the best parts of his game during his junior and senior seasons at Wisconsin. Standing just shy of seven feet, Leuer plays much closer to a shooting guard or small forward than a center. For his size, he is a below average rebounder—probably because he spends a good deal of time outside of the painted area—but he can tickle the twine with the best of them at his size and position. He has always shot a high percentage from the field (48.2%) and from three (37%), but it is free throw shooting that has markedly improved throughout his career. Leuer will be drafted for his offensive capabilities, so the drastic improvement on his three-point shot and performance from the charity stripe has really improved his stock. As a freshman, he shot a paltry 48% from the line, but this number improved every year (60% as a sophomore, 72% as a junior, and 84% as a senior). When scrutinizing Leuer’s ability to venture beyond the arc and hit a three regularly, he has become a much more polished shooter. During his first three years he was a combined 46-126 (36.5%) from behind the line, but in his final year he significantly upped his output from distance, hitting eight more treys than the previous three seasons combined (54-146 for 37%). The ability to stretch opposing defenses beyond the arc, as well as being able to create his own shot off the dribble (he is quicker and has a better handle than you’d think) makes him a very appealing draft candidate for a team looking to stretch defenses.
Will Translate to the NBA: Known more for his offense, Leuer will be asked to extend defenses and add a “European-type” offensive flare to his future NBA team. When studying his game, Leuer plays like the traditional European big player would as he is an excellent shooter, a sound defensive player, and has a fundamentally strong understanding of the game. There is always room for shooters in the League—especially big men—so Leuer will have little trouble finding his niche.
Needs Work: Leuer will struggle on the defensive end as he is not terribly athletic and will have a hard time matching up with the physically dominant power forwards he could be asked to guard. Adding weight would adversely affect his perimeter-oriented offensive game, but improving his foot speed would greatly help in guarding the opposition’s athletic forwards. He is also a below-average rebounder on the defensive glass—an improved technique and awareness of where the ball will fall off the rim is a must. Lastly, even though he is very proficient on the offensive end, continuing to improve his outside shot by adding consistent range will only make him more of a serious threat as a jump shooter.
Comparison Players: Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors immediately comes to mind when thinking of Jon Leuer’s game and what he does best. Both are big men with shooting ability from the outside; it is no surprise that this is the part of the court where they spend much of their time on the offensive end. Like Leuer, even though Bargnani stands at seven feet, he is not much of a rebounder averaging less than five boards a game for his career. Ever since day one, Bargnani has lived up to his offensive hype as he has scored in double figures throughout his entire career—Leuer will be expected to be an offensive spark-plug like Bargnani, although obviously not quite as talented.
Best Case Scenario: He becomes a better rebounder and a more complete defensive player so he is not solely an offensive threat. Leuer has always been seen—even during his early years at Wisconsin—as a strong shooter, but this aspect of his game did not truly come to fruition until his senior year. During the offseason, Leuer continues to improve his shot and becomes one of the premier big man shooters in the NBA—think a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki–especially with Leuer’s solid ability to create his own shot.
2014 Projection: Leuer has developed into a reliable scorer who is good for double figures on a nightly basis. We believe that his offensive game will not be an issue in the League—it is easy to see how he is the prototypical big men who can knock down jumpers regularly—but he has figured out how to play defense and rebound more effectively as well. After having spent the first couple seasons as a role player, Leuer is one of the first bigs off the bench who provides instant offense when needed. After becoming more agile and athletic—this should naturally happen after playing outside of the slow-footed Big 10—he may even be able to crack the starting five if he is drafted by the right team.
Best NBA Fit: Thanks to some impressive workouts recently, Leuer has catapulted his draft stock from a mid-second round pick up to a borderline first round selection. Many NBA teams are taking note of his strong offensive game; the fact he is just shy of seven feet and can shoot it like a small forward is very appealing. As such, Leuer would fit in nicely with the San Antonio Spurs who have the 29th overall selection. Regardless of whomever the Spurs draft, their selection always seems to have a strong understanding of the game and a high basketball IQ—San Antonio is regularly one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the League. Jon Leuer fits this profile as a draft pick there quite nicely.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “legitimate size, and you know he’s been well-coached… I have a love/hate relationship with players like this… he’s much like the international guys you see coming over.”