Blazers’ Leonard Uses Injury to Learn
When Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts discovered that rookie center Meyers Leonard would miss several games with a sprained right ankle, he sat his rookie center down for a quick chat. Sometimes the vantage point from the bench can provide a fresh perspective and sometimes a fresh perspective can be just as valuable as experience. Even though Leonard couldn’t play, he could still learn.
“It really helped me,” Leonard said. “First of all, it just refreshed me a little bit. A lot of times it’s the All-star break that allows guys to step back. Obviously I wanted to be playing, but in some ways it was kind of a blessing. I got a chance to step back and look at the game mentally and watch things unfold from the bench. And I watched some film on what I had done wrong, what I can do better, how I can help the team more.”
Despite the noticed improvement following Leonard’s return from injury and averaging 4.9 points and 3.6 rebounds as the first reserve big man off the bench, frustrating moments are still on the horizon. But when the Blazers drafted Leonard, they knew they were taking on a project. They knew his development would come slowly. But little by little, he’s improving. Little by little, he’s showing progress.