TJ Leaf NBA Draft Profile
Size: 6’10 220lbs
- Decent footwork
- High basketball IQ
- High motor
- Solid rebounder
Analysis: TJ Leaf came on this season at UCLA as a versatile scorer who can shoot from multiple ranges across the court. He has a European-like skill set and does a great job of exploiting mismatches on offense. Even though he is not an advanced post player at this stage in his career, he has shown flashes of good footwork and a variety of post moves from the block. He has nice touch around the basket and effectively utilizes jump hooks, turnaround jumpers, and even an occasional dream shake. As a shooter, Leaf has good mechanics and is more than capable stretching the floor as a three-point shooter. He also demonstrates a solid mid-range pull up game, particularly from the elbows. Leaf excels at taking bigger defenders off the dribble and does a great job of utilizing ball fakes from the perimeter. Two of Leaf’s strongest attributes are his high basketball I.Q. and his motor … He has also proven to be a clutch player who doesn’t get phased by a big moment or crowd (Rupp Arena). Leaf moves well without the ball allowing him to get high quality shots. He’s also an excellent and willing passer for his size, rarely does he force the issue, and he is almost always under control … He plays with consistent effort and regularly makes hustle plays, particularly on the offensive glass. Leaf is a terrific rebounder, which has a lot to do with how relentlessly he pursues the ball on both ends of the court.
- Lacks strength
- Struggles with contact around the rim
- Needs to score using off-hand (left)
- Struggles against stronger, more physical forwards
Analysis: The largest detriment to Leaf’s game is his lack of strength, from his legs to his core he will need to bulk up to even sniff the court at the NBA level. The good news is that he is only 19 years old and that there’s plenty of time for his frame to fill out. However, this hurts his ability to defend in the post where he can sometimes get pushed around. Although he is a capable finisher at the rim, he also struggles to finish through contact and does not have great body control when attacking the basket. As skilled as he is, rarely does he finish around the basket with his left hand. Leaf will need to improve in this area at the next level, or it will be much more difficult for him to score consistently. Right now he projects as more of a stretch four than a reliable go to option on the block. Leaf also doesn’t have great length and doesn’t really project as a rim protector at the next level. Although he has good instincts, he struggles defensively at times with longer and more athletic forwards.
NBA Comparison: Josh McRoberts
Draft Projection: Top 20