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Meyers Leonard is Good, But at No. 7 Will He Be The Best Player Available?

Warriors fans would probably love Meyers Leonard, should the Warriors draft the 7-foot-1, 250-pound center out of Illinois. Humble. Mature. Appreciative.

But whether his game is as mature and as likable as his personality is the question Golden State will have to determine heading into Thursday’s NBA draft. Some in the Warriors’ contingent, including co-owner Joe Lacob, figure since the Warriors can’t get one of their coveted players or fill a need, they might as well go big.

While Connecticut’s Andre Drummond might have the higher ceiling, Leonard – who worked out for the Warriors on Saturday — seems to be the better fit because he’s definitely a center and figures the be less of a risk.North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller may be more ready to contribute and better in the post, but Leonard is younger and noticeably more athletic.

He’s been compared to Robin Lopez and Tiago Splitter, dubbed a poor man’s Tyson Chandler and Chris Andersen without all the tattoos. Just about any combination of those would be perfect off the bench behind projected starters David Lee and Andrew Bogut. It would be reasonable to expect Leonard to rebound, block shots, knock down an occasional jumper and finish as a rookie.

But Leonard’s value is in his upside. Physically, Leonard rates pretty high. He’s a legit 7-footer with 7-foot-3 wingspan and a frame begging for more bulk. He runs the floor well and has some hops. He’s got and some  elements to his game on which to build.

“People say I’m raw,” Leonard said. “I wouldn’t necessarily characterize it as raw. I think I have a little more of a skill set than some people think I do. The ability to step out and shoot it, get up and down the court, use my athleticism, those are things I can do. I know that at the same time, coning into the gym every day, working on my footwork, back-to-the-basket (game), face-up (game), is very important.”

Still, the Warriors may have a tough time pulling the trigger on Leonard. While he’s got potential, Golden State general manager Bob Myers said he’ll take the best player available. Is Leonard — who averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 31.8 minutes — really the seventh-best player in the draft?

Myers said he would be willing to trade down for a player, but he had to be certain he would be available. He also said he wouldn’t have a problem drafting a player he was sure about even if No. 7 was considered high for that player.

Leonard has a few intangibles working for him. He’s only 20 and he’s shown serious growth potential based on the jump he made in production from his freshman to his sophomore year.Plus, Leonard — no stranger to poverty and struggle — has some edge to him.

Toughened by the death of his father as a kid, and a brother who just finished his second tour in Afghanistan, Leonard doesn’t come off as the type to back down. Plus, he is hungry to provide for his family, especially his mother who has suffered for years with debilitating back pain with no health insurance to take care of it.

But does he have enough to be the guy? Enough potential, enough readiness, enough intangibles, to warrant the Warriors passing up some other, higher-valued talents?

“I feel like this is a place I could fit in,” Leonard said, “But we’ll see.”

Marcus Thompson

  • J-Ridah

    Hope the Dubs took him out to our fabulous clubs! Its all about the VIP room and bottle service not to mention the cheap hos and biaches. Its not about the weather, its not about the scenery its all about the clubs!

  • earl monroe

    I don’t agree
    “seems to be the better fit because he’s definitely a center and figures the be less of a risk.”

    This is how one gets in trouble when drafting, he’s a center and less of a risk are not good reasons to draft someone- we need to draft the best player available, call them assets whatever, this kind of thinking is what led to Todd Fuller.

  • deano

    Leonard is what GSW needs most, a back up center; and he may well be the best player available at #7. “Best player availalble” does not mean most only most athletic, or only most skilled, or only most physically imposing. It’s all of that and, more. All together, and especially physically, Leonard is one of the rarest players in the Draft. The “usual suspects” at SF are all less rare.

  • Young

    Please don’t scare us like this…

    Leonard compares to Lopez. Waiters compares to D-Wade… What else is there to discuss?

    To make sure Jim boeheim wasn’t blowing smoke when he created this comparison everyone is using between Waiters and Wade I went back and watched Syracuse vs Ohio state in the elite 8. Waiters had a terrible game but he looked like wade on a few drives to the hole. No one could stand infront of him and he finishes plays in traffic with dunks. Freak talent…

    Keep Leonard…give us Waiters…

  • jai

    The draft better hurry up and get here. It looks like the Warriors are trying to find a way to fk it up

  • moderate voter

    I’m thinking guard now at 7, a PG, we don’t know how Steph’s foot will hold up, if Steph goes out early we will be in trouble. Lilliard looks like a keeper, 24 ppg, a natural PG, if we draft him we can move Steph over to SG when Klay sits. Waiters is another player you have to really consider, you could draft him because Charles Jenkins can play point, he proved that in the second half of season, he’s a surprisingly good passer, got a lot assists in final 20 games. Waiters is a slasher, we can use a slasher. The reason I believe we will draft a guard now is because West is now saying assets”, he doesn’t want to draft a so-so big at 7.

  • Niners in 2012

    Any GM that drafts Tyler Zeller over Meyers Leonard will fired in two years.

    I like Leonard, he is the best available big man at #7 but I don’t think he’s the best available player.

  • Scout

    I think Arnett Moultrie is the best available big man. I’m not sure why he’s not rated higher on mock drafts. I bet GM’s are keeping an eye on him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went top 10.

  • rew

    I think the memory of Patrick O’Bryant is relevant here, I can’t see Bobby Meyer drafting a project that may – or may not – work out. This is his first draft pick, he’s gotta get it right, Meyer needs to get off on right foot as new GM. The pressure is on, but he’s got West to advise him so he will make right choice.

  • Derek

    No big slow unathletic white guys should ever be drafted that high unless there super special types like Bird or Mullin. Zeller and Leonard aren’t close to special or even above average.

    Learn from the Todd Fuller mistake.

  • Yoda

    Patrick O’Bryant is relevant and so is Chris Washburn.

  • rotfogel

    @Derek
    Are you saying that Leonard is not athletic? Have you seen him? He’s actually very athletic. Put it like this, if he was black he’d be a top 5 pick…but his game is raw, he will be a much better player than Drummond however, that’s easy to see.

    I wouldn’t mind him, but please heed my warning…do not pass on Terrance Jones aka Ron Artest meets Josh Smith. Don’t do it.

  • John

    Those of you comparing Meyer Leonard to Todd Fuller or Chris Washburn have never seen him play. And those who say he is a slow unathletic white guy are just using stereotypes. He may not be the BPA at #7 but he is extremely athletic for a huge man with a body that can still add muscle. He is over 7’1″ in shoes and 250 pounds with less than 6% body fat. He is extremely strong & athletic for a 20 year old kid. He is mature, articulate, skilled, a gym rat, coachable and has quick hops and can play above the rim. He shot FT% of 73% compared to Drummons’ 29%. He is not my first choice at #7, but many of these comments about him are just ignorant.

  • Young

    @derek

    Why are you pointing out his race?

    The rest of us are talking about basketball…

  • Derek

    Championship and or competitive teams are NEVER made up of Leonard, Bogut, Lee types. Especially when team with slow unathletic type like Curry, and Thompson as the core of the team. Get real.

    Basketball teams need speedy athletes who can, run, jump, defend and aren’t affraid to attack. Who in the above noted group does much of that. Leonard only averaged 13 and 8 in college. If he can dominate there ,he’s nothing more than a career bench player in the NBA.

    The Warriors are annual losers aka draft lottery participants due to the fact they tend to draft projects, when in fact they have no success developing projects. Projects belong on winners where they can sit and learn. The Warriors are losers who need to gravitate to proven commodities.

    Dunleavy was a gym rat, look how long it took him to simply become medicore.

    The Dubs need a speedy PG who can score, penatrate and dish, the need and big atletic wing who can score rebound and defend specifically on the inside, and in general they need more athletes. They have the fundamental guys, now they need creators and a bruiser off the bench.

  • Derek

    How dumb would it be to tank the season, simply to draft another guy for the bench. In all honesty it’s never a good move drafting a white american basketball pplayer high unless he truely dominated in college (which is rare). Quality/above average white american basketball players is a rare as quality/medal winning black american olympic swimmers.

    A pathetic team like the Warriors cannot afford to take that type of risk.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Get Lillard, if available at #7! Hometown kid with same attributes as Curry coming out of college (incredible scorer, a willing passer, though not a natural PG, good kid, hard-worker), but much quicker and more athletic. Trade Curry and Wright to the Hornets for Jarett Jack and their #10. Use the #10, #30 and Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins to get Luol Deng from the Bulls.

  • tee hall

    The warriors need to just go ahead and make a play for lamar odom at sf, and then draft for star power seeing that lamar would sure up that 3 spot. If Brandon Roy really comes back and considers playing for the dubs imagine having Curry,Roy,Odom,Lee,and Bogut as our starting 5.

  • dknight007

    meyers leonard at #7???

    Would be an atrocious pick by the W’s! hahaha

  • Gummy

    Roy is going to come off the bench wherever he lands.

  • Stan

    Meyers reminds me of that movie “I have a particular set of skills. And when I find you,I will kill you”..! That should clear the the lane huh Marcus?..lol..

  • Gunner

    Don’t worry guys. One of MKG, Barnes, or Robinson will slip to #7 to us…

  • Derek

    Arnett Moultrie is far better than any of the guys being considered on this blog. He also has a proven track record as he dominated in college, whereas the guys being discussed where simply middle of the road types according to their numbers.

    BTW; The guy talking about that old retard Lamar Odom (LO). Drop your crack pipe, Odom is done and is a borderline nut at this point. I live here in the LA area, he wants to play here and generally only here, yet neither team has any interest in him. It’s time for LO to commit full time to reality TV, his NBA days are done. Or should I say, his days as a good player are done. Some foolish team may take a run at him, however I hope that team is NOT the usually foolish GS Warriors.

  • jaysohn

    No more safe picks, take the risk at 7 for the player with the most potential upside and the best chance at being a STAR regardless of position and even if there is a bust factot. Top teams are built on STAR players and at least one difference maker which the Warriors haven’t had in decades. Draft with STAR potential in mind and acquire the best assets.