Opportunity Knocks: Leon Powe

Opportunity Knocks: Leon Powe
Nov 15, 2006, 02:21 pm
Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a late 2nd round pick get a chance to get some playing time early in the season. Injuries in the Celtics’ frontcourt and foul trouble early on in this game allowed Leon Powe to get his first crack at playing time. Powe checked in at the 2:20 mark in the first quarter and established himself early on both sides of the court. While his final stat line was impressive, 10pts 7rbs 2blks, it was Powe’s technique and assertiveness that made his performance stand out.

Powe doesn’t have great traditional height for the 4 position, but his length, strength and agility helped to mitigate much of this deficiency. Powe doesn’t posses superior interior footwork, but he has a knack for utilizing fakes, half steps, and leans to draw contact. These are good indicators of his potential in this area. In this game Powe showed a glimpse of the skill-set that could make him into a productive NBA player. The following is a breakdown of plays that detail some of the more promising elements to his game.

Hands: (1st quarter, 26 second mark)

Powe sets up on the low right block, fights Darko Milicic for position, West throws a hard inlet pass high, Powe extends fully with his left hand behind his head to coral the ball, gathers and goes into his post move in one motion…

…It was an extremely difficult angle for reception of the pass, but Powe was able to use his off-hand while under defensive duress and the ball simply stuck to his hand as if it were routine…people will remember the put-back off the offensive rebound, but it was the reception of the initial pass that showed the type of hands Powe has.

Footwork: (1st quarter 4:50 mark)

Powe starts down the land off-ball, cuts hard in front of Milicic on the strong side and seals him 8 feet from the hoop, receives the ball and starts backing him down toward the middle of the paint, sees the help defense and pulls a quick drop step back to the baseline side which gets him around Milicic and forces another shooting foul…

Powe was easily able to establish deep position and Milicic wasn’t able to walk him off the spot…Powe didn’t have any trouble working the bigger man deeper into the paint and the detected the double team right as the man came..without hesitation he made an aggressive counter move that got him in position to make a play at the basket…

Dribble drive: (1st quarter 7:23 mark)

Powe sets up on the left side of the top of the key, takes a pass from Telfair, drives through the middle of the defense and is fouled on his way to the hoop…

The move started 17ft from the basket with Tony Battie squared up 5 feet in front of Powe and Dwight Howard opposite Battie on the other side of the lane. Battie funnels Powe right to Howard, but Powe’s first step is enough for him to squeeze in between the two defenders enough to force the foul. Powe also displayed the strenghth to take a hit from both men and still power his arms up through for a bid at the hoop.

(1st quarter 3:34 mark)

Powe receives the ball on the right side of the free throw line, Milicic is 4 feet off him with Howard and Turkoglu also inside the paint, Powe makes a hard dribble to his right forcing Milicic that direction, spins left away from Milicic and into the lane stopping short of Howard and elevating for the 8 foot jumper…

Another poised outside move into close range with heavy defense on the interior. Powe was able to create the space he needed to get off a high percentage inside shot by pulling his defender out of the area he wanted to go and then countering quickly with a spin back inside for the uncontested pull-up…

Timing: (2nd quarter 9:38 mark)

Rondo gets sealed on a high screen behind the right 3pt line, Arroyo drives toward the basket uncontested, Powe releases off Milicic and comes across the lane, waits for Arroyo to jump before going up to challenge, blocks the shot…

Beyond his awareness of the play from the weakside, Powe didn’t get over anxious and cause a foul on a play that most defenders would have. He cut off Arroyo’s angle and waited for him to go into his shot and the jumped AWAY from Arroyo as he went up, using only his arm to shadow the ball while avoiding the body contact that Arroyo was trying to draw…after sending the ball the other way, Powe gets it back and makes a power move inside drawing the full body contact from Bo Outlaw, pulls the ball back on impact and lays it in for the shot and the foul…

(4th quarter 11:20 mark)

Delonte West takes a deep 3pt shot from the right side, Powe battles Howard for rebounding position, forces Howard into the circle underneath the basket, releases from Howard on the carom and gathers the ball with his left hand, spins away from the middle and up into the attempt…

Powe was able to move a larger player out of position and his transition from rebound to shot was instantaneous, he didn’t gather himself to go back up strong, instead electing to go up quickly to beat the larger defender to the basket


This isn’t an objective measure really, just a culmination of the play that Powe displayed. Beyond the skill elements he showed, Powe was aggressive and proactive with his play, which is something that has been missing at times from many of the other young players. Considering it was his first regular season action, it was a testament to his preparedness and will to come out as aggressively and effectively as he did.

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