Coach Byron Scott is not known for effusive praise of his players. But with Jon Leuer, it took all of a couple days of training camp to land in Coach Scott's good graces.
"I just don't think he realizes how good he can be," Coach Scott has said in an interview on Cavs.com.
Leuer will be battling with Samardo Samuels for minutes backing up Tristan Thompson. The key difference for Leuer is that Coach Scott has him focusing entirely on being a 4, while Samardo continues to split time at center and power forward. They bring different skill sets, with Leuer being a bit more skilled and able to run the floor, with much better range. Coach Scott has spoken of Leuer's underrated athleticism and post game.
We have written about it before, but Jon Leuer has the potential to fill a void left by the departure of Antawn Jamison. Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, for everything they bring to the table, are not shooters, and generally cannot create their own offense in the post with a lot of efficiency. While Leuer is never likely to be better than mediocre defensively, there is reason to believe he can be a pretty good scorer.
As Coach Scott puts it: "He has 3-point range ... and he's a tough kid. He plays hard. And he's pretty good in the post as well ... it's just a matter of bringing it out with him."
It is very early in training camp, so making projections is probably an exercise in futility, but at the moment it seems hard to believe that Samuels or Leuer won't make the team. Seeing how Coach Scott balances playing time between Thompson, Varejao, Tyler Zeller, Leuer, and Samardo Samuels will be interesting. Which of those players can join Thompson and Varejao as productive NBA players will be even more interesting.