Could Meyers Leonard be part of the solution for the Bucks at center?

Myers Leonard shot up draft boards after workouts in Chicago.

To hear the Milwaukee Bucks tell it, or to watch them react to it, they weren’t all that concerned about the center position last season. Or the season before for that matter.

Hopes were pinned to Andrew Bogut before each season began, despite his injury history and rehabilitation from his infamous elbow injury. Two seasons ago, his health was most certainly in question heading into the season, but the Bucks failed to secure a steady backup center, opting to stick with a hybrid 4/5 in Drew Gooden as the next most logical solution if anything happened to Bogut.

Well something happened to Bogut. He played in 65 of 82 games and the Bucks struggled without him. Frankly, the team struggled with him too, as he was clearly not his typical self all season long.

Heading into last season, there was optimisim that another full summer of rest and rehab would have Bogut resembling his near All-Star self of 2009. But surely the team would be prepared if anything were to happen to him again given the struggles they had without him the season before. Surely a backup center would be a top priority.

If it was, consider that priority a complete failure.

The Bucks again failed to secure a backup center, Bogut played in just 12 games before an ankle injury sidelined him. The Bucks would eventually move the one time franchise cornerstone as a new direction was taken. Gooden again was forced to man the middle. His efforts were valiant, but nightly battles with the likes of Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler left Gooden exhausted by season’s end.

Gooden’s deficiencies as a team defender reared their ugly heads all season as well. Without a shot-blocker or even really a solid rotator behind them, the aggressiveness of the Bucks perimeter defenders went unrewarded. Milwaukee struggled to keep the opposition out of the paint or turn them away once they got into it.

So will the Bucks look to address the center position come draft night?

DraftExpress’ mock draft now has the Bucks taking Illinois center Myers Leonard at 12. Leonard has the size that the Bucks are currently lacking inside for sure, standing 7-foot-1 and weighing in at 250 pounds. He’s the natural center the Bucks don’t have in Gooden, Ekpe Udoh or Larry Sanders. Additionally, he said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago that he feels like he can get up and down the court better than the average big man as well.

“My ability to step out and shoot the ball, my ability to run the floor and be a little more agile than most guys my size, and my athleticism has definitely shown a bit in these workouts.”

But his main goal is to be that defensive backstop – the one the Bucks lack right now.

“I think the way Joakim Noah plays with passion and a lot of energy and tenacity, I model my game around that a bit,” Leonard said. “Tyson Chandler, his ability to be a backstop to the defense and block shots and be a good on-the-ball defender, is something I strive to do.

Chad Ford says Leonard’s name was hot all of last weekend in Chicago, noting that he may have moved ahead of Tyler Zeller on many draft boards. Ford had Leonard in the 9-14 range right now and should have a new mock draft up today some time.

If you’re completely unfamiliar with Leonard or just want to see a well put together video on him, Mike Schmitz of Valley of the Suns and Draft Express has you covered.

Categories: Draft Talk

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  1. MatthewSchwendinger

    I’ve been high on Zeller and the more I’ve looked at things, I think Leonard might be the better prospect too. I’d be perfectly fine with this pick.

    • MatthewSchwendinger

      Furthermore I think this is someone who we could draft and IMMEDIATELY begin the season as the starting C.

  2. I guess I should be happy that my opinion was valid, but be careful what you wish for.. I said wait to see how Leonard’s stock rises when he starts to work out for teams.. Now there is a better than decent chance that he will never see #12.. The rumor mill is abuzz  and listing Detroit now as a possible destination, not just Portland and New Orleans.. The idea of a Leonard/Monroe front court can be scary.. Monroe is skilled enough to make that a very happy marriage.. The Trailblazers don’t have one serviceable center and New Orleans may try to pair Meyers with Davis to make fill out their future post. So I guess I’ll just cross my fingers on that one.
    backup plan: Sorry Matt but I am not very high on Zeller.. I feel like he is solid.. the same way Cole Aldrich was solid.. and while I do feel like his ceiling is better than a guy like Aldrich he’ll never be anything special.. i think if we have the opportunity and it works out this way Terrence Jones might be the pick.. and hope to get a center in the second round(e.g. Festus Ezeli if available) or free agency.. Jones is a smooth offensive player that could help

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @JustinNixon Like I said, the more I’ve watched online, I’m coming down from my Zeller-high. I think Cole Aldrich is a very good example to use to describe him. Man, I kind of want Fab Melo….

  3. There are alot of solid C’s in Free Agency this offseason so if the Bucks are not able to get Leonard then I dont think it is the end of the world. I’d rather see them take best player availible instead of Zeller, I agree with Justin in that although Zeller will probably be a serviceable NBA big man he appears to already be at his ceiling.
    I’d rather see the Bucks take one of the Jones’s (Their stocks are falling currently and both appear like they will be availible at 12) They could provide some immediate offensive firepower to the second unit, and one day potentially become starters at the 3 which are their natural positions even though they are working out as 4’s
    Side note..i’ve heard rumors that the Bucks are interested in re-signing Kwame Brown I hope to the high heavens that it is for league minimum because he is not worth a penny more than that.

    • MatthewSchwendinger

       @Teddddd I agree whole-heartedly with the Kwame statement. Ugh, that’s not someone i want. Can I ask what C you would like to see signed via free agency then Tedddd? I kinda wouldn’t mind Reggie Evans (if he’s a free agent) but I don’t think he’s a “starter.”

      •  @MatthewSchwendinger It depends on what they get from the draft, but I would really like to see them go after Javale McGee and (or) Stiemmsma both are RFA’s this off season but both Denver and especially Boston are looking to shed some cap so I think the Bucks could acquire at least one of these guys. And both of them fit the Bucks most desperate need, Defensive Anchor. McGee is a bit of a bonehead at times but he’s one of the most athletically gifted bigs in the league and I think it’s worth taking a flyer on him.
        Stiemmsma isn’t quite the athlete that McGee is but he’s a smarter player and the guy just has a nose for the ball, he’s a great glue guy, he’s a Wisconsin resident, I cant imagine him going for more than the MLE and even that is being generous. So I think he makes a lot of sense.
        Kaman is another name id like to see them go after I think he’d fit in well as a Buck. He is however a bit injury prone and is probably one of the guys who is going to be a bit overpaid this offseason, but he’s a UFA so he gets to decide.
        I like Evans too for his energy and dominance on the glass, but i think ur right he’s more or a role player and I think he is a bit undersized so im afraid he’d get lost in the already logjam of PF’s in Milwaukee.
        We’ll see how the draft goes, im really excited to see what direction this team is going to go especially if they are potentially moving up in draft order
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    • PattiRafalskiDavison

       @Teddddd Nobody thinks that Kwame Brown should be signed for $7M.  However, even though there are a couple centers available as restricted free agents, that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to sign a decent center for a decent salary.  I see value in signing Kwame at minimum to work out with and share time on court with our young forwards and possible drafted rookie center.  Draft Center and sign Kwame might help the Bucks, especially if we don’t have another option at center.

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