Weight: 222 pounds
Position: Power Forward
T.J. Leaf is an extremely intriguing player who has a ton of tools to work with, particularly on the offensive end. Leaf has a ton of ways to score the ball, both in transition as well as the half court.
First and foremost Leaf is a very good athlete who runs the floor very well for his size, oftentimes beating his man down the floor and finishing above the rim.
Leaf also has the ability to stretch the floor as he has three-point range, knocking down over 46 percent from deep last season. He isn’t strictly a perimeter player however, as he has the ball-handling skills to attack slower bigs while facing up and also has a solid post game with a number of different ways to finish around the rim.
An underrated part of Leaf’s game is his passing ability. He is a high IQ player who sees the floor very well and is a willing passer. He also showed himself to be a more than adequate rebounder which should translate to the next level as well.
The biggest concern for Leaf comes on the defensive end of the floor as it is a major question mark who he will be able to guard at the NBA level.
He lacks the foot speed and lateral quickness to keep up with quicker players, but also lacks the strength to bang down low with more physical players. Furthermore, Leaf doesn’t have exceptional length for his size to make up for his other physical deficiencies.
His lack of strength also shows up when trying to finish on the offensive end. Leaf tends to shy away from contact and struggles to finish through it when things get physical in the paint.
Overall Leaf still needs to improve as an interior scorer, developing more moves and becoming more comfortable scoring against tough, physical defense.
Player Comparison: David Lee
An underrated athlete, excellent scorer, and solid rebounder, David Lee has carved himself out a nice career even making a couple of All-Star teams in the process.
Leaf has a lot of similarities as a versatile offensive player who relies more on skill than strength or pure physical talent. Much like Lee, Leaf also has defensive concerns as Lee was never a positive on that end of the floor.
Getting to All-Star level might be a bit of stretch for Leaf, but he has the offensive repertoire, athleticism, rebounding and basketball IQ to be a long-time contributor in the NBA.
Fit with the Lakers
Leaf’s fit with the Lakers is a little more difficult than others as they are seemingly pretty set at the power forward position with Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.
Leaf is a much different player than both as he is more of a stretch-4, capable of spreading out the defense with his shooting. He is also more of a skilled big, whereas Randle relies more on his physical tools and Nance is more of a defensive player.
The defensive concerns certainly are worrying, but Leaf is a great fit in Luke Walton’s offense thanks to his ability to run the floor, shoot, and create for himself and others. There may be others at his position, but they don’t necessarily do what Leaf does and that could warrant a strong look from the Lakers should he be available.