It is hard to put into words how much CJ Leslie reminds me of JJ Hickson when he came into the NBA. Ruling out the obvious similarity of them both going to NC State, neither player at this stage in their lives was able to put their physical tools together the right way on the basketball court. The term “raw” is often used. Both players are unbelievably athletic, have a quick first step to get around defenders and can hang in the air and finish at the rim with emphasis. They both struggled defensively, partly due to a lack of strength. However, Leslie has a jump shot out to the college three point line which Hickson still doesn’t have.
He is very composed and patient on offense and obviously understands the game very well. He is quicker and a better ball handler than I thought who makes clean, crisp passes. He isn’t elite in terms of dribbling side to side but quick enough to create space and can use his length to get shots up with a smooth crossover either traditional or between the legs. Should be able to run the offense at the next level for a second team assuming he is paired with some halfway decent scorers off the bench. He actually looks to be an acceptable choice to replace Livingston as the “captain” of the bench crew if we choose to go that route with one of our second round picks. Assuming he stays healthy, Livingston is a legit rotation player at the PG spot on a championship team. I think Wolters would be considered an upgrade overall at this position because he has the ability to stretch the defense a bit which Livingston absolutely cannot do. Don’t be surprised if Dion Waiters has a large role in running the offense moving forward, much like Harden did for OKC even though neither player is a true PG.
Bottom Line: If I only had one player to select in the second round for the Cavs, it would definitely be CJ Leslie. Has he underachieved to this point? Absolutely. Does he need to add strength? Sure. Does he need to develop 2-3 more post moves to be successful at the next level? Again, yes. The Cavs right now need to pick the player with the most talent and upside with their second round picks and Leslie fits the bill. He isn’t ready, especially from a consistency standpoint and would likely spend the majority of the season in the D-league. I still think the Cavs try and package some picks together to either move up or acquire more future assets, but picking Leslie would be a great option.