|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Illinois C Meyers Leonard||06.15.12 at 9:45 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.
Weight: 250 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All-Big Ten honorable mention (coaches, media)
Key 2011-12 stats: 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 73.2% FT
What he brings: At 7 feet tall, with a long wingspan and a developing frame that he should continue to fill out, Leonard is an athletic big man who runs the floor well and shows promise that he will become an above-average NBA center.
Leonard showed a decent — and improving — offensive touch in his sophomore season at Illinois in 2011-12 and is an imposing defensive presence with his length and tremendous quickness and mobility.
The knock on Leonard is that he’s very much a work in progress. Physically, his conditioning could improve and he is still working on his understanding and getting a feel for the game.
Where the Celtics could get him: Leonard’s stock has been rising and he is projected to be a late lottery pick, so the C’s would need to trade up to have a shot at him.
Notes: Leonard is arguably the second-best center prospect in the draft, behind UConn’s Andre Drummond, though UNC’s Tyler Zeller might get drafted ahead of Leonard. With four years of experience at the college level, Zeller is considered a much more NBA-ready player while Leonard is regarded as a two- or three-year project.
Video: Here’s a nice package of Leonard highlights, mainly focusing on his passing and low-post ability.