Meyers Leonard Can Learn From Damian Lillard's Example

By John Raffel
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Meyers Leonard had a decent rookie season for the Portland Trail Blazers. But Damian Lillard obviously had a sensational one and was rewarded with the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

The Blazers hope that Lillard’s feat will wear off positively on the other rookies who will be sophomores next year.

That includes Leonard, who is headed for a make-or-break season in his career. Leonard seems to show that at times during the season that he was ready to break out. But there were other times it was hard to determine exactly what he had in mind as a player. Leonard averaged 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game. He played in 69 games and started nine and averaged 17.5 minutes. That’s not bad for a rookie. It shows that the team can see some value in having you on the court and wants to use you as much as possible. Leonard displayed excellent shooting ability in his rookie season with 54.5-percent shooting from the floor, 42.9 percent from the 3-point stripe and 80.9 percent from the free-throw line. He also averaged less than a turnover a game, which is impressive.

Late in the season, Leonard started drawing more minutes than normal. One of his better games was against the Denver Nuggets when he was 5-of-9 from the floor, and scored 19 points and had five rebounds.

Leonard has potential and hopefully he’ll untap more of it next year as he sees what that did for Lillard. The Trail Blazers need players like Leonard to develop and take them to the playoffs.

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