It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Santa Cruz Warriors guard Travis Leslie got his NBA Call-Up
From the first time I saw him with the Santa Cruz Warriors this year, I figured Travis Leslie would be getting his Call-Up at some point during the season. After winning the 2013 NBA D-League All-Star Game MVP award, I figured it would be coming sooner rather than later. When you consider what he's done as the 13th pick of the 2012 NBA D-League draft - he was named D-League Player of the Month for November and December after averaging 16.4 points on 55% shooting and 7.9 rebounds, nearly identical to his season average - he almost has to be considered a steal for the Warriors organization after the Los Angeles Clippers waived him in preseason.
Today he finally got his second chance in the NBA as the Utah Jazz have made him the 24th Gatorade Call-Up of the season. According to Jody Genessey of the Desert News, the Jazz will be looking for Leslie to fill the vacancy left by veteran guard Raja Bell.
"Man, that kid can flat out jump," Golden State Warriors guard Kent Bazemore said after a Santa Cruz game back in January. "I'd put him up there with anybody, anybody in the NBA. You see him in warm-ups just throw the ball up, catch it, go between the legs, just easy. Just running out there, running around. That dunk tonight he got on Pittman was nuts - he was just trotting down the lane, catches it, and gets off the floor so easy; I don't even think he bent his knees. He just gets off the floor so easily."
Leslie's athleticism is certainly the thing that has always stood out about him, but what has impressed me most throughout the season is his knack for finding points within the flow of the game, rarely making mistakes, and his potential to use that athleticism to compete defensively at the next level.
Leslie's Call-Up is certainly a bit of a loss for Santa Cruz who likely won't be getting much help from Kent Bazemore for the remainder of this season with him being needed on the Golden State Warriors. Yet with Mo Baker, Stephon Hannah, Darrington Hobson, Cameron Jones, and Scott Machado, they'll still have a strong backcourt rotation capable of scoring and handling the ball with the best of them.
Some might wonder why the Warriors chose not to keep Leslie within the organization as a Golden State Warriors Call-Up but the recent signing of defensive-minded 6'9" L.A. Defenders forward Malcolm Thomas might help explain that: Leslie's strength is probably more as a scorer than a defender.
Anyway, Leslie was a large part of what has made Santa Cruz games exciting to watch and it will be exciting to watch him progress as he gets his next NBA opportunity...even if that might be tough to see him helping a team right in the thick of the playoff chase with the Golden State Warriors.