It may have been an ugly night for his team, but Jon Leuer’s NBA debut went about as well as he (or I) could have hoped.
Leuer finished as Milwaukee’s leading scorer with 18 points off the bench. He shot 6-11 from the field and 6-7 from the free-throw line. Surprisingly, none of Leuer’s buckets came from behind the three-point line, where he was expected to do his damage in the NBA. Instead, Leuer banged around in the post with the Timberwolves’ front line, showing off a post game that looked right at home in the pros. Early in the second quarter, Jon followed a long jumper with a slick up-and-under against Minnesota’s Anthony Randolph to earn an and-1. In the third, Ersan Ilyasova hit Jon on a cut for an easy layup. Then a minute later, he grabbed an offensive rebound a dropped it home.
It was a very encouraging game for Leuer, who signed a two-year contract with Milwaukee on Thursday. After earning praise from coach Scott Skiles following his first practice, the strong showing in his first game bodes well for Leuer’s chances to earn playing time in a crowded Milwaukee frontcourt.
As exciting as it was to see, let’s not forget that this was just one preseason game. What’s more, Milwaukee’s opponent wasn’t exactly known for its defense. Leuer had a bit of trouble on that end himself, particularly during the time he spent guarding second-overall pick Derrick Williams. With a coach like Skiles, quality defense is essentially a prerequisite for playing time. Thankfully he won’t be forced to check players as athletically intimidating as Williams every night. For that matter, there are no guarantees he’ll even see the court every night. For one night, though, Leuer proved that he belongs at the highest level of competition.
For more on the Bucks’ pre-season opener, check out my recap at Brew Hoop.