Evaluating Teafale Lenard Jr. in a 2023 Basketball Game against Florida Atlantic and in Two G-League Games

May 14th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch 6-8 forward, Teafale Lenard Jr. play in a series of basketball games.  It was hard to find much publicly available full G-League game tape on him, so I decided to watch him play in a February 16th, 2023 game against Florida Atlantic, with thanks to YouTube via The Draftmatic.  I then decided to compare that to how he was used in the G-League in comparison.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared against Florida Atlantic in this game.

6-8 forward, Teafale Lenard Jr. is a very athletic swingman that has the physical tools and the mindset to develop into a high-quality defender at the NBA level, but his lack of a jump shot and struggles to score in a half court set could be holding him back from being able to reach his full potential.
(Photo: Wade Payne/Associated Press)

Teafale Lenard Jr. had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Florida Atlantic in this game.  He is a very athletic swingman that can defend multiple positions, and he shows a lot of promise as a defender in games.  However, his defense is much further along than his offense, and Lenard had trouble making shots in this game.  He’ll especially need to improve his jump shot and ability to score on off-ball motion plays to be able to make a sustainable impact on the offensive end.

Lenard showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  On one good play, Lenard was able to utilize a crossover to go to his left to score on a graceful layup.  He also managed to use a crossover to split a double team to draw free throws on an acrobatic, reverse layup.  However, he missed both of his free throws, and he also got his shot blocked hard off of a drive another time.  He didn’t really look to attack the basket that often, but he showed some promising handles and the ability to create his own shot when given the chance.

He also showed that he can score on hustle plays.  Lenard ran the floor to catch a lob pass, and he was able to score on a high-flying, alley-oop dunk.  He also looked to drive quickly to the hoop in transition, but ended up missing while falling away in traffic.  On the downside, he didn’t shoot the ball well at all in this game. Lenard missed all of his three-point attempts, regardless if he would take them off the catch or dribble, or if those would be open or contested.  He also missed a pull-up jumper from the mid-range, and Lenard will need to put in a lot of work to be a credible shooter at the NBA level.

Also, he displayed solid playmaking skills in this game.  Lenard did a good job of making dump off passes and he can make passes off the dribble to find the open man and set up scores for his teammates.  He also would tend to throw accurate passes, and he also can handle the ball in the open space.  He also would sometimes set screens, and he would swing the ball and make the extra pass.  Sometimes he would operate as the team’s point forward, and while it’s unlikely that he’ll play this role at the NBA level, Lenard generally did a good job of making decisions with the ball in his hands.  On one play though, he held the ball too long and got it poked away from him, which led him to turn the ball over that time.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up and chase down balls to help his team get defensive boards, and he also was able to tip a ball to a teammate to help his team get another.

Defense is where he would likely make the most impact at the NBA level.  Lenard is an athletic, rangy defender that covers a lot of ground, and he plays with a high motor.   He can pressure opposing ball handlers at the point of attack, and he has quick hands that enable him to jump passes to get steals.  Lenard also has good recovery speed, as he can hustle back and close in on opponents off the dribble to contest and block shots to get stops.  He will use his length and anticipation skills to make plays on the ball and contest shots, and he can make it difficult for his opponents to get their shots up, passes through, or to dribble around.

On the downside, he doesn’t always defend outside shots as well as he could have.  Sometimes he would have lapses as he wouldn’t always actively contest outside shots, which led him to give up three-point baskets to the opposition.  There was another time where he and his team got confused as to who to guard on screens, which led them to give up an open deep three-pointer early on.

Overall, Lenard is an intriguing prospect that has flown under the radar in this year’s draft.  He is a very athletic forward that whose strong defensive skills could be his calling card in the NBA.  He’s also shown that he can pass and handle the basketball, and he can finish plays above the rim in transition.  However, he’s still offensively raw, as he lacks a reliable jump shot, and he’ll need to be more of a cutter and rim runner on offense.  He also will need to add more strength to be able to handle the contact on both ends of the floor. He’ll probably still need to spend another year in the G-League, but if he is able to develop a passable jump shot, he could be a solid defensive specialist in the NBA.

I also was able to watch him play in two G-League games for the Texas Legends. One was where he played sparingly in the third quarter of a November 16th game against the Osceola Magic, with thanks to YouTube via Sports Live via @sportslive3983, and the other was an extended highlights tape in which he played in the fourth quarter of a January 27th game against the Iowa Wolves, with thanks to YouTube via Iowa Wolves.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared in both of those games.

In the November 16th game against Osceola, Teafale Lenard Jr. wasn’t heavily involved in their team’s offense.  He would opportunistically run the floor to look for lanes to get the ball in transition, but his teammates wouldn’t find him.  He also didn’t really look to cut to the hoop, and he operated as a low volume offensive player that rarely touched the ball.

He played satisfactory defense in this game.  Lenard was able to backtap a ball from an opposing ball handler to a teammate to help his team get a steal.  He also managed to recover on a drive to contest a shot at the rim to force a miss.  He is a long, athletic forward that can cover a lot of ground, and he showed considerable promise as both an on-ball and help defender on the floor.  The only misstep seemed to be when he struggled to cut off penetration on open drive, which led his teammate to rotate to foul an opponent, although his teammate seemed to rotate unnecessarily that time as Lenard still seemed to be in position to contest the shot.

In the January 27th game against the Iowa Wolves, Lenard again wasn’t heavily involved on offense, as he operated as a low volume role player that rarely touched the basketball.  He looked to cut to the hoop once, but no one threw him the ball that time.  On one play, he was able to quickly pass to an open teammate in the backcourt, as he showed that he can safely get the ball to his teammate that time.

Defense was where he made a strong impact in this game.  Despite getting bumped hard on a drive, Lenard seemingly was able to poke a ball away as he was able to jump on a loose ball to get the steal.  He also was able to rotate to contest a shot off of a drive to force a miss before later blocking a put back to swat it to a teammate.  Then, Lenard was able to rotate to block a shot hard from an opponent that drove in from the high post out of bounds to showcase his length, athleticism, timing, and instincts.

In both of the G-League games that I watched, Lenard looked to be a low volume role player that struggled to carve out a meaningful role on offense, but he was able to make big plays on the defensive end in both games.   Overall, Lenard is a very athletic swingman that has the potential to develop into a shutdown defensive player, but he will need to develop a consistent and reliable outside shot and find a meaningful role on offense that will allow him to thrive in a supporting role.  If he can find a way to develop a reliable outside shot, in a favorable scenario, Lenard could end up being a solid 3 and D role player similar to Brooklyn Nets’ forward, Dorian Finney-Smith in the NBA.  Otherwise, if his jump shot doesn’t develop, then it’s likely that Lenard will end up either on the fringes of NBA rosters or shuttling back and forth between the NBA and the G-League.

Other Notes:

Here were some of the other players that caught my eye in the February 16th, 2023 game that took place between Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic (in which Florida Atlantic would later make the Final Four in the 2023 NCAA Tournament).

Middle Tennessee’s 6-8 forward, Elias King had a strong showing to lead his team to a win over Florida Atlantic.  He did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he is an athletic forward that was able to make some defensive plays to help his team on the other side of the ball.

King did a very good job of knocking down threes in this game.  He excelled at making open corner threes off the catch.  He also was able to cross up his man to get his opponent to fall down, which enabled him to make a smooth, pull-up three that time.  King also managed to score on a strong drive in traffic, and he also used a drop step move to score out of the post.

Also, King would swing the ball to find the open man.  He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get defensive boards, and he would sometimes push the ball up the floor afterwards.    He also played above average defense in this game.  King was able to deflect a pass and help trap an opposing ball handler, which helped him force a ball-handling turnover.  He also managed to cut off penetration when defending a ball handler to force a pass another time.  He also would actively look to contest shots.  Sometimes though, he would give up too much space and be late to close out, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets.  Another time, he got beat off the dribble when defending a quicker ball handler in transition, which led his team to give up the basket that time.

Overall, Elias King played very well, as he mostly thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game.   This season, he didn’t quite shoot nearly as well as he did in the 2022-23 season, so he’ll need to get his jump shot back on track.  He’ll likely have to spend some time either in the G-League or overseas to hone his game, but if he can do so, he could end up being a 3 and D role player in the NBA sometime down the road.

Florida Atlantic’s 7-1 center, Vladislav Goldin had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Middle Tennessee.  He may be only an average athlete, but he plays hard, and he would consistently make plays in the paint on both ends of the floor.  Goldin would score on strong drop step moves out of the post, and on rolls to the rim.  He also was able to throw down a dunk off of of a roll early on.

He also showed some defensive skills, as he was able to stay with an opposing ball handler on a drive to block a shot.  Plus, Goldin also rebounded the ball well.  Next year, Goldin will move up to play at Michigan for the 2024-25 season, and that could be a very good move for him, and it was a very good get for Michigan to be able to land him.  Goldin has been a solid player in college basketball and was a valuable player to Florida Atlantic’s 2023 Final Four run.  If he can show that he can reliably hang against better athletes and upper-echelon opponents on a consistent basis and add a reliable jump shot to his arsenal, he could move up draft boards in 2025.

Florida Atlantic’s 6-2 guard, Alijah Martin is a very athletic scorer that thrived at making shots in this game.  He particularly excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop, and he was able to throw down a thunderous dunk in this game.  He also was able to pull up to make a smooth, pull-up three from beyond the arc.  Martin also was able to get the ball on a broken play to score on a put back. 

Overall, Martin is a strong, athletic score-first combo guard that has shown that he can be a three-level scorer, and he may be poised to make a big impact at Florida next season.  While he will need to improve his distribution skills and be a more consistent outside shooter, Martin’s scoring skills, athleticism, and intangibles should enable him to make an NBA team’s summer league roster in 2025.

Florida Atlantic’s 6-4 guard, Johnell Davis also had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Middle Tennessee.  He’s not blindingly fast nor explosively athletic, but he is a strong, physical guard that has shown that he can be a three-level scorer.

Davis excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he was able to dribble up the floor to throw down a dunk once.  He also was able to score on a put back.  Plus, he also was able make a quick cut to get the ball, which enabled him to drive in to draw free throws.  He also was able to move off the ball to make an open deep three-pointer off the catch.  Davis doesn’t have great footspeed and can sometimes take tough, contested shots that can lead to misses, but his strength, motor, and spot-up shooting skills can enable him to be a credible threat to score on offense.

He also showcased adequate playmaking skills.  He did a good job of finding teammates on the move to set up scoring chances for them.  On one play though, he slipped on the floor when driving in transition, which led him to lose his footing and committing a traveling violation.

Also, Davis was able to get boards on both ends of the floor to chip in on the glass.  He also played adequate defense.  He was able to jump on a loose ball that was poked to him to help his team get a steal.  On one play early on, he fell down when defending an opposing ball handler out on the perimeter, which led his team to give up the three-point basket.

Overall, Davis didn’t have his best game, but he passed the ball well, and was able to get some solid scores to help his team on offense.  He later proved to be a very valuable player to his team during their Final Four run in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.  He will be a very good addition to Arkansas’ team next year if he decides to play in college basketball next season.  He doesn’t have ideal size or athleticism to play out on the wing, but his jump shot, production, and intangibles should enable him to make an NBA team’s summer league roster either this year if he stays in the draft, or next year if he decides to withdraw from this year’s draft.

Middle Tennessee’s 6-6 swingman, Justin Bufford also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Florida Atlantic.  He is a very athletic, energetic swingman that excelled at making hustle plays, and he has shown that he could possibly end up being a defensive specialist in the NBA.  Though he’s not much of a rebounder, Bufford was able to average roughly a steal and a block per game during the 2022-23 season, which was especially impressive considering that he only averaged 22 minutes per game that year.

Bufford thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring off offensive rebounds.  He was able to pivot off of an offensive board to score on a smooth, turnaround jumper.  He also managed to score on a put back in traffic off his own miss.  Plus, he also was able to run in to intercept a dropped pass and drove in to score on a high-flying, two-handed dunk on the break.

In addition, he also was able to dribble to his left to knock down a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  He struggled more when attempting threes or  when looking to create his own shoot off the dribble, but Bufford was able to make some solid hustle plays around the basket.

He also passed and rebounded the ball well.  He can swing the ball to find the open man, and he also will crash the glass to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Plus, Bufford also defended very well.  He was able to tightly guard an opposing ball handler and stay with him to force his man to shoot an air-ball three from long distance.  Bufford also excelled at picking off passes, and he was able to leap up to intercept an entry pass to get a steal later on.

Overall, Bufford played well, as he thrived at making hustle plays in this game.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot and ability to consistently score in the half court, but he is a strong, athletic swingman that could project into a 3 and D role at the NBA level someday if he can get his jump shot to be at a passable level.

Middle Tennessee’s 6-5 guard, Eli Lawrence also played well to help his team get the win in this game.  He is a very athletic guard that made high motor plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He shot the ball well, as he showed that he can use either hand to pull up and knock down pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  Lawrence also was able to utilize a jab step to make a smooth corner three.  Plus, he also jumped a pass quickly in the backcourt to get a steal, as he then spun and drove in to score on a magnetic dunk on the break.

He also showed some playmaking skills, as he was able to make a quick, drive and kick pass to notch an assist.  He also generally defended well.  Lawrence was able to get a couple of steals, and he also deflected a pass another time.  He also was able to successfully draw a charge when defending an opposing ball handler.  On one play though, he didn’t cut off penetration when defending a drive, and he ended up committing a foul and allowing a score that time.

Overall, Eli Lawrence played well in this game, but this past season for Texas A&M, Lawrence had trouble getting minutes and didn’t shoot nearly as well as he did at Middle Tennessee.  Lawrence is going to have to develop his skills either in the G-League or overseas, and he’ll need a lot of work to get his outside shot back on track.  It’s unlikely that he’ll end up playing in the NBA, but if he can move up the levels and play well at various stops, he could give himself a fighting chance to make it as a 3 and D role player at the NBA level someday.

Middle Tennessee’s 6-3 point guard, Camryn Weston played well in his team’s win over Florida Atlantic.  He played well above the mean, as he was shooting and scoring the basketball in all sorts of crafty ways.  He showed a knack for scoring on dribble, mid-range jumpers.  Weston also was able to make a deep three, and he also ran in to score on a tip-in.

Plus, he also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He did a good job of making passes off the dribble and in transition, and he was able to throw an accurate lob pass to set up a score for his teammate on the break.  On one play though, he tried to drive hard to the hoop, but he lowered his shoulder and pushed off, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.  He would also try to be too fancy with his passes sometimes, as they wouldn’t always be ready to get them on the move.

He also rebounded the ball very well.  Overall, Weston is an agile, skilled guard that can knock down shots, but he didn’t quite shoot the three-ball nearly as well in either of his last two seasons, and he will need to take better care of the basketball.  He’s not really an NBA draft prospect right now, but adding a reliable jump shot and improving his decision making skills on offense could allow him to carve out a solid playing career in professional basketball.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Lenard fared in those games.  Right now, his defense is clearly ahead of his offense, and he likely projects to be a defensive specialist at the NBA level.  For him to be able to carve out a long career in the league, he’ll need to improve his jump shot and involve himself more as a cutter and on motion plays on offense. 

Also, it will be interesting to see how the 2024 NBA Playoffs will turn out, and it seems that the Denver Nuggets have bounced back in a strong way, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will need to find a way to respond in order for them to stay in their series.  Thanks for reading.

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