Leo Lyons ● 6 feet, 9 inches ● 240 pounds ● ForwardOver the course of the 2011-12 NBA Development League season, the only thing that could really stop Leo Lyons was a trade.
In the first half of the year, after returning late from an injury that pushed back the start of his season following a bronze-medal win in the Pan American Games, Lyons towered over virtually every other forward in the league. The lack of consistency that’d plagued him since his University of Missouri days turned into a string of double-doubles (at once point, five in a six-game stretch between Jan. 13 and 27) and a level of play that earned him a bid to the NBA D-League All-Star Game. Through 26 games with the eventual NBA D-League champion Austin Toros, he averaged 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds, including a 19-point, 16-rebound night against a powerhouse D-Fenders squad in late February.
Then, a week after he started the All-Star game alongside Nets-to-be Jeff Foote and Jerry Smith, Hornet-to-be Jerome Dyson and fireworks-display-to-be Gerald Green, he was traded to the Dakota Wizards and never started again.
Lyons’ numbers fell for the Wizards, where he finished with a 9.6-point, 5.6-rebound average in 14 games. The offensive game that he’d shown off since Mizzou – Lyons has long been able to score in a dazzling variety of ways, from around the hoop to the perimeter – withered a bit as he struggled to find his role in the system.
“The difference is that I was with Austin for a long time so they had a lot of confidence in me,” Lyons said. “I knew the system like the back of my hand and I was a key to that team, then in Dakota I had to play where I was. I understood the situation, and knew what scouts would judge me for. I kept that on my mind the whole time, to not get frustrated because of the decreased role, and I did what I could when I went out there.”
He did, however, play defense. And for a player whose perceived lack of intensity has long held him back, he showed more and more his ability to face-up against virtually every position on the court.