Meyers Leonard has taken a backseat as a rookie for the Portland Trail Blazers to fellow first-year player Damian Lillard.
But as he has all season, Leonard continues to play a key role for Portland, which is battling for an NBA playoff spot.
Leonard has been struggling in recent games. But in the early stages of the Blazers’ Sunday showdown at the Oklahoma City Thunder, he got off to a solid start with 4-of-4 shooting for nine points.
In early March, Leonard had been on a roll where he was showing excellent progress in various areas of his game. Against the Thunder, he saw nearly 22 minutes of action and was solid, although the Blazers still fell 103-83 and now, at 33-37, are in an even deeper hole in their hopes of getting to the playoffs. But Leonard still played very well in a key situation.
Leonard’s action time was more than his average of 15.1 minutes per game so far this season. He’s been at 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds and his shooting has been solid at 55 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Leonard got considerable minutes in the Blazers’ previous two games last Thursday against the Chicago Bulls and Friday at the Atlanta Hawks. He only had a combined 12 points but showed rebounding life with nine boards against the Hawks.
In the final 12 games of the regular season, it would be smart for the Hawks to put Leonard on the court more to test his potential for the future. His performance Sunday showed that he has plenty of potential.