It seems like quite a long time since those first few months with Jon Leuer.
Before the All Star break last season, Leuer was posting 11 points per game on 59 percent true shooting percentage along with 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He was one of the bright spots for a Pistons steam struggling to meet expectations.
Since then though, he fell off a cliff. And apparently busted his ankle on the way down.
He came back from the All Star break looking like he’d forgotten how to play basketball and didn’t look much better even before spraining his ankle just eight games into the season - an ankle sprain that turned out to be a season ending injury.
Leuer talked about focusing on his three point shot over the offseason, but attempted just three in his eight games he played - not connecting on any of them.
While it seemed a bit wild that Leuer’s season was lost due to just an ankle sprain, it sounds like opting for surgery may be for the best for his long term health.
“There’s a bone fragment stuck in my ligament on the inside. It’s in the joint, so it’s causing a lot of sharp pain every time I jump and run — even light running and jumping,” Leuer said. “They’re going to take that out. I had a pain on the outside of my ankle too, so they’re going to clean that up and take out a piece of cartilage. It’s not necessarily from the (last) injury I had. I rolled it a lot; they think it’s an accumulation of things. You don’t know for sure, but the last ankle sprain aggravated it and things moved around in there.”
Apparently the ankle had been an issue going back to Leuer’s high school years, so surgery should be the best bet for him finishing the two remaining years on his contract with better health. Though let’s not get into Stan Van Gundy again committing big dollars to a player with underlying health issues…
Leuer has $19 million remaining over the course of those two years. He has the ability to play up to that level or to be a huge boondoggle. Really, the potential scenarios for how Leuer’s tenure plays out for the Pistons could realistically vary pretty wildly.
If he does the bare minimum of staying healthy and actually looking like he belongs on the court, he’ll make for a fine, if overpaid, rotation player. If he goes to the next level and is actually a willing and able three point shooter, he could exceed the contract’s value.
Don’t forget, he can play. Think back to some of those High/Low pieces from Mike Snyder from the first half of last year. The guy we’ve seen for too long now has played pretty crappy. But there’s a version of Leuer that can really play.
There’s a version of him that is really good about keeping the ball moving.
He was particularly mindful about keeping Andre Drummond involved.
The pre-All Star break Jon Leuer was a legitimately helpful player - the type of guy who is really fun to have on the team. Not perfect. He still needs to track down his missing three point shot and he’s basically just a guy on the defensive end, but he should be able to be a smart, unselfish glue guy type of player.
But another season that looks like the past year and a half, and Leuer’s signing will start to look like a Charlie Villanueva-esque level bust.