NBA Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers Handling Meyers Leonard Wisely So Far

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

While the Portland Trail Blazers try to keep their fainting NBA playoff hopes alive, a 109-04 weekend victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves gave notice that there’s not only strong veteran talent on the roster, but also some promising new faces.

The Blazers got major contributions off the bench from rookies Meyers Leonard with 12 points and eight rebounds and Victor Claver with 10 points.

Leonard, especially, is a rookie who can provide outstanding minutes for the Blazers on a regular basis. The rookie from Illinois does little wrong when he’s inserted into the lineup. The 7-1 center entered the contest averaging 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while averaging slightly less than 15 minutes of playing time.

Against Minnesota, he got in for 21 minutes and was nearly flawless. He was 6-of-7 from the floor and  had 12 points along with eight rebounds. He also had a decent night last week in a loss to the Denver Nuggets when he was 4-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe for 13 points.

This is a good situation for Leonard and the Blazers. On the one hand, to throwing him into the lineup with a lot of minutes in his rookie season might lead to some challenging and unfortunate experiences. But getting in enough time to enjoy the NBA experience, learn the game and feeling comfortable with where he’s at, makes it beneficial for both player and team. It’s also a chance to spell the regulars and get some good playing time.

But rushing a rookie, hoping he can play like a veteran, is never a good idea.

Leonard has a future with the NBA, but the Blazers have to handle his future with kid gloves. So far, they have.