According to Charles F. Gardner, Scott Skiles has announced that Drew Gooden will miss Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic and Luc Mbah a Moute will come off the bench. Jon Leuer will be starting aside Ersan Ilyasova.
Against Dwight Howard.
I’ve been the first to point out the various on court antics of Gooden, but he did an admirable job against Howard the last time Milwaukee and Orlando met. Even Gooden doing a nice job against Howard still saw Howard repeatedly get shots inside the paint that he typically makes. He’s a huge dude and he put quite a hurting on Gooden. Gooden is without question a bigger and much more physical player than Leuer.
I anticipate Ilyasova will get the Howard assignment. He’s regularly defended opposing centers when Gooden has been out of the game and this front line has been in. Regardless of whether Leuer is banging with a center or helping off the ball, defense has been his downfall this season, as it often is with rookies. But if it’s tough for the average rookie to pick up on NBA defenses, imagine how difficult a situation Leuer is in.
“The lack of practice time really hurts those guys,” Skiles said when talking about both Leuer and fellow rookie Tobias Harris before the Bucks-Hornets game. “We can’t go further into our concepts and things like that. It’s nothing at all we’re concerned about at all. It’s just a matter of the hand we’ve been dealt this year with no rookie league, no September, not much of a training camp and hardly any practice time. It’s tough on rookies.”
Like the rest of his teammates, Leuer has been hurt by the lack of Andrew Bogut as a stabling force behind him.
“Jon played better when Bouges was playing,” Skiles said. “He had a defender behind him. Jon’s unfortunately been in at some times when we’ve really been breaking down defensively. It hasn’t’ been all his fault or anything, but he’s a long ways to go on that end of the floor. Having said that, he’s gotten better already. There’s no reason to assume he’s not going to continue to get better with more practice.”
Leuer’s been very productive offensively despite his defensive struggles. He ranks fourth on the team with a 17.7 PER and is shooting 52% from the field. Milwaukee’s offensive rating with Leuer on the floor this season is 106, meaning they score 106 points per 100 possessions while he’s playing. The team’s overall rating is 102.9.
But if a player is going to get consistent minutes under Scott Skiles, especially with the team struggling overall on defense, he is going to have to play defense. Skiles point about Leuer missing Bogut is worth paying attention to. The sheer size of the average center makes it almost impossible to play Leuer at the five, as he hasn’t been a very good rebounder this season. Guys have run right through him to the glass when he’s been at the five. When Leuer has played center this season, Milwaukee’s offensive rating has dropped to 97.7 while their defensive rating has soared to 110.5. He’s not cut out to play center just yet.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t cut out to play. If Leuer wants to start earning more regular minutes once again, Orlando is a great place to start.