The Milwaukee Bucks may be Wisconsin’s pro basketball team, but it is far from being the premiere basketball program within the state. That honor would go to the Wisconsin Badgers men’s team (*ducks away from Marquette fans*). And the Bucks just drafted its favorite son, Jon Leuer.
With the 40th pick of the draft, the Bucks selected the Wisconsin forward. This should come as no surprise. During Leuer’s Tuesday workout with Bucks first round draft pick Tobias Harris and other prospects, Bucks Director of Scouting Billy McKinney said of Leuer, “If he’s at 40, I think it’s kind of a no-brainer for us.”
Coach Scott Skiles also liked Leuer’s workout, “”One of the things Jon said, and it’s so true, is he’s more athletic than you think, and it comes across when you watch him play in a college game, but also the athletic testing in Chicago and then when you get him in a workout, he moves around really well.”
If Leuer makes the roster he will be an immediate fan favorite for a franchise that always struggles to put people in the seats. He’s not only a recognizable face to many Wisconsin residents, but one they already have seen succeed. But Leuer has an even steeper uphill battle than former bucks second round picks. Summer League has been cancelled due to the impending lockout. Without Summer League, Leuer will have limited opportunities to impress the coaches. Though the talent isn’t overwhelming at power forward, it is a well-stocked position for the Bucks, especially if Harris were to emerge as a capable stretch 4 when the Bucks go small.
His fate may be tied somewhat to Ersan Ilyasova. The Turkish forward has been rumored to be interested in parting ways with the Bucks, possibly for Europe. Milwaukee was said to be in talks about moving Ilyasova for a first round pick on draft day, but nothing came of that. Ilyasvoa has filled the Bucks stretch four role for the past two seasons, while contributing as a high energy defender and rebounder as well. Leuer’s strengths are very similar.
Fortunately for Leuer, the Bucks already run a play that’s tailor-made for him. They run a high screen where the screener spots up immediately after the pick is cleared. The screener was left open more often than not because the screener was a Bucks player and thus a bad shooter. Leuer can hit that shot. He has one of the most polished offensive skill sets out of any collegiate that went into the draft.
In addition to his floor stretching abilities, he has a vast arsenal of post moves. Leuer does have his deficiencies. His defense is suspect against other big men (it was well hidden by the Badgers system, so his defense isn’t that big of a deal since he’s going to an elite defensive team as long as his effort is there). His rebounding is poor. He needs to get a lot stronger otherwise he’ll rarely get position in the block and will just get throttled in the NBA in much the same way that Matt Howard manhandled him in the Sweet Sixteen.
Expecting Leuer to come in and contribute heavy, or even moderate, minutes right away is probably a bit of a stretch. But if Jon Brockman was able to carve out a role on last season’s Bucks, is it really that far-fetched to think Leuer may be able to scrape some minutes together if he makes the roster?
Ian Segovia is a contributor to the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter.