Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
At just 6'4", Travis Leslie is one of the more athletic players to hit the NBADL hardwood on a nightly basis. After an impressive All-Star performance, he's seemed to carry that same momentum with him into the second half of the season.
With the NBA D-League Draft right around the corner following his release from Los Angeles, Leslie entered the draft pool, where he went on to become the thirteenth overall selection of the Santa Cruz Warriors. A little more than halfway through the NBADL season now, and about ten of those teams who drafted before the Warriors must be scratching their heads a bit by now. How could they have let Leslie slip away?
The guard has excelled in Santa Cruz all season long for a Warriors squad that has prided themselves on putting forth balanced efforts each and every night. Leslie's 16.4 points per contest lead a team filled with past NBA call-ups and a bevy of current double-digit scorers. Santa Cruz' coaching staff seems to enjoy dividing the minutes up rather evenly between its talented core, and thus, Leslie pours in the points while only averaging 27.8 minutes per game.
At just 6'4", Leslie is freakishly athletic. Not one to slow down, he can often be seen running up and down the floor from end to end as his team looks ahead on offense. The guard is the type of player who likes to set himself up early to cash in on a pass from his point guard when the floor general looks down court.
When Leslie has the ball, it's always full speed ahead. He can attack the basket aggressively and pour it in with ease, whether it be with a smooth layup or an overpowering dunk.
But all of the progress he has made to this point wasn't enough to earn him an All-Star selection right off the bat. It took an injury to another top-ranked guard, former Laker Andrew Goudelock, for Leslie to squeeze in and secure a spot for the midseason contest in Houston.
Coincidentally enough, just as Leslie left up to twelve teams scratching their heads following the draft as to why he wasn't selected earlier, he must've left plenty of others perplexed as to why he wasn't an initial All-Star, following his performance during the big weekend.
With so much talent on Santa Cruz's roster, Leslie has the privilege of laying low a bit and not having to do too much on a daily basis. While it undoubtedly takes the pressure off of him, perhaps it can also be considered either a gift or a curse, especially with regard to standing out and getting yourself noticed. Nevertheless, his offensive prowess still allows him to flip a switch and turn up the heat to give his team a boost and/or take over the game if necessary.
And that's exactly what Leslie did as he came off the bench during the All-Star Game. The top-prospect studded contest became 'The Travis & Justin Show' midway through the second half as Leslie and Legends' guard Justin Dentmon put on an athletic display for fans and NBA executives alike in attendance. Arguably bringing the Dunk Contest to the All-Star Game, Leslie was seen soaring to the hoop again and again. He finished with 19 points in just as many minutes, and after an 8 of 13 shooting display, was named M.V.P. of the contest.
He's seemed to carry that very same momentum with him into the second half of the D-League season so far. He's been leading the way for the Warriors while averaging 17.6 points on 63% shooting from the field, and is pulling down an eye-popping 9.3 rebounds.
One has to wonder how inflated Leslie's numbers may become, if he were playing for a team with less existent talent. Nevertheless, he's emerged as a leader for the Warriors and his success is coming in quite the efficient manner, so who's to argue with the way he's been rising up to the challenge thus far?