Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer
is continuing to show progress as a player, developing into one of the most productive players
in college basketball this season. Leuer's 19.4 points per game places him third in the Big Ten in scoring, a feat more impressive considering the slow pace Bo Ryan and his swing offense operate at. In fact, Leuer's 26.7 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks in the top five
amongst all prospects in our database, flashing an inside-outside game that makes him an incredibly effective collegiate big man.
Upon first look at Leuer, it would be easy to write him off as a prospect due to his below average athleticism, slender frame, and a lack of a true position to defend. That being said, he possesses an excellent basketball IQ to go along with some offensive skills that are in high demand, skills that he should be able to translate to the NBA reasonably well.
Leuer has continued to improve his post-game, showing a nice right handed hook shot and a smooth turnaround jump shot. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Leuer's 1.021 points per shot ranks in the 88th percentile in college basketball, a vast improvement over his efficiency during his first two years at Wisconsin. He shows soft touch on the turnaround hook, which has developed into his go to move in the post, and shows the ability to hit these when contested.
Its unlikely Leuer will be a frequent post scorer in the NBA, as he lacks the lower body strength to consistently establish position. He's not all that explosive and may struggle to get his shot over longer defenders, and doesn't have a wide array of counter, all of which could leave him limited to fade-aways and tougher post shots in the NBA. However, he has enough in the way of post moves to take advantage when he does get a favorable matchup.
The key to Leuer's ability to translate his game to the next level has been the continued development of his perimeter game. Leuer, who entered high school as a point guard
before experiencing a dramatic growth spurt, has good ball handling ability for a big man. While he doesn't possess the first step or leaping ability to consistently create separation on drives, he's more than capable of using one or two dribbles to setup a pull-up jumper, and shows the ability to hit shots off the dribble, doing a good job of gathering himself and going straight up for the shot, showing good body control. He's also fairly fluid for someone of his size, moving well both with and without the ball.
More importantly, Leuer continues to extend his range out beyond the college three point line. After improving from 29.6% as a sophomore to 39.1% from three point range last season, Leuer has continued to build upon that part of his game. Now taking 4.6 three point attempts per game, he is converting at an extremely efficient 44.8% this season. Leuer wastes little motion on catch and shoots, and does a good job making a quick decision before the defense has time to recover. His ability to translate this part of his game is an absolute key in becoming a contributor at the next level.
Overall, Leuer has a good basketball IQ, showing itself most notably by his low turnover rate relative to his usage, which ranks amongst the best in college basketball
He also shows solid defensive fundamentals and consistent effort, although his physical limitations manifest themselves on this side of the court. Lacking great lower body strength and limited lateral mobility, Leuer lacks a true position to defend, struggling both against physical post players and on the perimeter. Bo Ryan plays a largely man to man defense at Wisconsin, switching on most picks on the perimeter, which doesn't help in hiding Leuer's defensive shortcomings. Leuer's length and timing allows him to block some shots at the collegiate level and he does a good job of rotating over, but his lack of explosion likely prevents him from being much of a paint presence in the NBA.
Another area where Leuer's lack of lower body strength shows itself is on the defensive glass. While Leuer does show good technique boxing out and gives consistent effort, his lower body strength puts him at a decided disadvantage.
Right now, Leuer's basketball IQ and ability to be a threat on the perimeter in catch and shoot situations should allow him to contribute in the right offensive scheme. Perhaps as much as anybody, Leuer's success may be dependent on going to the right situation, playing for the right coach, and with the right personnel. If Leuer could add some lower body strength to help him in defending the post and become a more consistent defensive rebounder, he could prove to be a good value for a playoff team looking to strengthen their rotation.