One of the more skilled and physically gifted players in attendance, Leo Lyons put his strengths and weaknesses on full display here in Portsmouth. Since we last wrote about him prior to the season, not much substantial has changed, though there are a few observations to be made. While Lyons measured in at a strong 69.75 in shoes, its tempered a bit by his 610.75 wingspan, which is just average for his size.
On the offensive end, Lyons is an incredibly versatile player, capable of scoring inside and out in a variety of ways. Taking the ball to the basket, Lyons can attack with either hand while mixing in occasionally advanced moves such as spins, crossovers, or behind-the-back dribbles. Hes not an incredibly quick or explosive athlete, but hes very smooth and coordinated for his size, and possesses very long strides with a relatively controlled handle. The main problem with Lyons dribble-drive game is his at times questionable decision-making, as hes prone to forcing the issue or playing outside his limitations.
In the lane, Lyons is capable of finishing with either hand and has the fluidity to adjust in mid-air, using reverses, pump fakes, and finishing through contact with regularity. Interestingly enough, Lyons actually ranks third in our entire database (behind Blake Griffin) in free throws attempted per 40 minutes pace adjusted, telling you just how tenacious he is attacking the rim. Lyons does a good job of cutting to the basket without the ball and leaking out in transition, while he also has a lot of ability as an offensive rebounder, though he doesnt always make use of his abilities consistently there.
Lyons jump shot has been up and down over his four years at Missouri, as despite showing great form and shooting touch at times, hes prone to bad misses due to a lack of discipline in shot selection along with some sloppy tendencies. When he gets his feet set and his shoulders squared, Lyons is a very accurate shooter out to 18 feet, even when hes fading away and/or contested. Unfortunately, though, Lyons is prone to rushing his shot at times, pulling the string on his follow through, or drifting in different directions unnecessarily, leading to inconsistency in his effectiveness. With better discipline and more consistent mechanics, Lyons has the potential to become a deadly mid-range shooter, and maybe more, as hes shown brief flashes of range out to the college three-point line.
On the defensive end, Lyons has had many well-documented issues prior to this season, and while hes made some strides, many of them still remain. On the positive side, Lyons attentiveness and activity level as a perimeter defender is definitely improved this season, however hes still inconsistent in doing some of the little things--giving up too much space to shooters, not putting in the effort laterally, and not staying in a fundamental stance. It is worth noting that during Missouris NCAA tournament run, however, most of these problems were hardly evident at all, as Lyons looked like a different player on the perimeter, playing excellent fundamental defense, moving his feet well, aggressively hedging pick-and-rolls, and really showing what hes capable of. On the negative side, Lyons post defense and boxing out on the glass has not been impressive all season, as he shows little grasp of leverage, doesnt fight hard for position, and just is not very effective defending in the painted area.
Despite his considerable talent, he only averaged 23 minutes per game at Missouri, partially due to foul problems (4.3 fouls per per-40), and partially due to the large rotation Mike Anderson likes to employ in their very up-tempo 40 minutes of hell style pressure defense. This also had a lot to do with his average awareness and basketball IQ, as you never quite got the feeling that Lyons was always on page with his coaching staffwho werent the ones who brought him to Missouri.
Looking forward to the NBA draft, Lyons will most likely be in a lot of second round discussions, as despite his flaws, he will be one of the most naturally talented players on the board as draft night winds down. The caveat to this is that in spite of his talent, Lyons is still a good ways away from putting it all together, as he has a lot of adjustments to make to his game in order to maximize his abilities and become a consistent all-around player. Still, that is what the NBA draft is all about after all.