It seems as if Leonard will get the opportunity to play right away as the other true centers on the Trailblazers roster are Dan Gadzuric and Joel Przybilla, both who are mediocre at best. Leonard has been having a very promising summer league where he has been a physical force around the rim as well as starting to develop chemistry with his teammates on the court.
Leonard should be able to put up decent numbers for a rookie next year, as opponents will have to focus on All Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is one of those power forwards in the NBA who has been forced to play center during his career, with no other big man scoring threats ever playing with him(see Amar’e Stoudemire pre Tyson Chandler).
Aldridge will finally have that teammate in Leonard who at 7 foot 1 is a true center in every sense of the word. Maybe the most overlooked part about Leonard is his defense. He averaged almost two blocks a game last year for the Fighting Illini, and with teams bound to try to attack him and not Aldridge, that number should not decrease. Averaging over 8 rebounds a game last year in the rough and tough Big Ten should prepare him for battles fighting for boards with NBA centers this year and beyond.
Although Leonard probably wont be Rookie of the Year next year, and might not make any All Star Games for a while, he should be a solid pick up for the height depleted Trail Blazers. He might even surprise some people by using the aggressiveness, athleticism, and toughness that made him a first round pick, and continuing to mature and develop his overall game. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge should give the Portland front office a nice present for making his life in the paint much easier in the years to come, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Who knows, maybe in a few years the Trail Blazers will have two pieces of the next “Big Three”.