UCLA power forward T.J. Leaf, among a group of players being considered by Miami with the 14th pick in the June 22 NBA Draft, will work out for the Heat on Thursday in Miami, according to league sources.
Leaf intrigues the Heat because of his size and outside shooting ability. He’s also a productive rebounder.
Leaf, 6-10, averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks while playing 29.9 minutes per game in his one season at UCLA.
He shot 61.7 percent from the field and 46.6 percent on three-pointers (27 for 58).
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“Leaf was the best offensive weapon on a loaded UCLA team,” ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford said. “He's a gifted scorer who can hit 3-pointers and finish at the rim. He's tough, a solid rebounder and a good passer. He lacks elite length and size for his position, and scouts have concerns about whom he'll guard in the pros. He should go somewhere between No. 15 and No. 25.”
Ford has Leaf going 18th to Indiana in his latest mock draft.
“Opinions on Leaf are all over the board,” Ford said. “He's one of the most gifted scorers in the class and he has a great feel for the game. He lacks strength and elite lateral quickness, making him a potential liability on the defensive end.”
But two veteran scouts for other teams said they would strongly consider Leaf if drafting for Miami at 14.
But this scout expressed concern to NBA.com’s David Aldridge: “He’s probably smart to come out right now before he starts really getting picked apart. He’s not a special athlete or anything. I see him as a backup, coming off the bench, and he evolves into kind of a stretch four with your backup group. I don’t know if he has as much bounce as David Lee had coming out. He’s sneaky every now and then, I guess. I thought David Lee was a little more explosive.”
Leaf - one of several players being brought to Heat headquarters on Thursday - joins a group of prospects in Miami’s draft range who have booked private workouts for the Heat – a group including North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson (last Thursday), Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell (Tuesday), Duke guard Luke Kennard and Wake Forest power forward John Collins (both on Wednesday) and Creighton center Justin Patton (on Sunday).
And here’s another intriguing first-round prospect that worked out for the Heat today.
• Duke forward/center Harry Giles, who has had three knee procedures in recent years, canceled his Heat workout Thursday, according to a college basketball source close to the player. No reason was given.
• Here’s my post with a lot of Dolphins news from today, including developments on DeVante Parker, Charles Harris, Jakeem Grant and others.