The Oklahoma City Thunder were finally able to snag TJ Leaf this offseason after being interested in the power forward for so long. Leaf was selected in the first round of that 2017 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers after a stellar college career at UCLA mostly thanks to Lonzo Ball being an impeccable lead guard.
The 23-year-old could never crack the Pacers rotation as a mainstay. He made just two career starts in three seasons with Indy. For someone selected 18th, that is not ideal. A year ago, Leaf only played double-digits minutes nine times. His career averages of 3 points, 2 rebounds on 49 percent from the field are nothing to write home about.
With consistent minutes, TJ Leaf has the chance to be a very good rebounder that can roll to the rim with ease. There is still the potential with Leaf, especially paired with a good lead guard. With the Thunder wanting to space the floor a TJ Leaf and SGA pick-and-roll could be deadly…It could also be a disaster.
That is the point of taking a flyer on a project like Leaf. Sam Presti and the Thunder organization will give TJ Leaf every chance to prove he can be a quality NBA player, and truly treat this as a fresh start.
My projection for TJ Leaf is that he will finally crack the rotation in his fourth NBA season, in a system more conducive to his modern big man game, and he will prove a lot. I think Leaf can still be a quality NBA contributor, playing some valuable minutes off the bench.
My bold prediction for TJ Leaf is he will capture five double-doubles this year. All-in-all I think Leaf will fill into that NBA role player style of player by years end. This will be a flyer that pans out for Sam Presti and company.