7 Players Portland Trail Blazers Can Draft to Build Around LaMarcus Aldrididge
The Portland Trail Blazers have officially begun the LaMarcus Aldrdge era in Rip City, and while he's proven he can certainly carry the load this season, the team has also shown they must get more talent to surround the 6'11" All-Star.
With the Blazers currently looking on the outside in on the playoff race out West, the very real possibility of having two lottery picks this summer means that the team is going to have their choice of players to surround Aldridge heading into the 2012-13 NBA season.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Portland isn't very likely, but should the ping pong balls bounce the Blazers' way—or they swing a draft day deal—the 6'7" forward could add depth to a Blazers team that seemingly became quite shallow following the March 15 trade deadline.
Although not necessarily a stat-filler, his 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and overall defensive presence on the perimeter could help fill out the roster nicely next season.
His role on the team would have to be addressed before next season began, as the Blazers have finally cleared space at the starting small forward position by trading Gerald Wallace this year.
If the one-and-done prospect can take to a bench role in the NBA, though, the same way he did last season at Kentucky, he could be an outstanding fit on a roster that is looking to start fresh next season.
Although shooting guard doesn't appear to be a spot of immediate desperation, Wesley's Matthews' inconsistencies, Jamal Crawford's contract and Elliot Williams' health have to be on the minds of the Trail Blazers' decision makers this summer.
Bradley Beal is a 2-guard who can shoot the ball, drive to the basket and make the hustle plays, averaging 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals during his only year with the Florida Gators.
His 14.8 points per game is nice, but the ability to create his own shot is something that Portland would love to see on their roster next season.
The Trail Blazers have finally severed ties with former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, and the search is once again underway for the long-term answer at center in Rip City.
If Bradley Beal is selected ahead of Portland's first pick—or the team decides to address a more pressing hole in the roster—Andre Drummond out of University of Connecticut could be the guy to target.
While his numbers last season don't jump out at you—his performance in the tournament this year was a major disappointment—the 6'11", 275-pound big man has the athleticism and potential to refine his game and become a force on both ends of the floor.
Blocking shots, pulling down rebounds and finishing alley-oops alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, these two players could eventually become the dynamic-duo that Portland should have had when Greg Oden was drafted in 2007.
If the Blazers decide that the 2-guard spot is worthy of consideration this summer, but Bradley Beal is selected too high for them to obtain, Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb could be a very solid pickup.
Lamb averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season, and while his three-point shot can use some improvement, he has the ability to score from almost anywhere on the court.
Although this team doesn't necessarily need a score-first option at shooting guard, anybody who can help take the load off of LaMarcus Aldridge will be a welcomed addition to next year's roster.
Point guard has been a problem for the Trail Blazers for quite some time now, and last year's draft day acquisitions of Raymond Felton and Nolan Smith haven't proven to be the solutions as of yet.
North Carolina's Kendall Marshall doesn't exemplify the score-first point guard that has seemingly taken over the NBA, but his court vision more than makes up for his career 7.8 point-per-game average.
A pure facilitator, Marshall averaged 9.8 assists per game last season, and likely wouldn't take shots away from LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, who are both seemingly coming into their own as their careers progress.
If the Blazers do decide to keep up with recent trends throughout the NBA, Damian Lillard could be the scoring point guard the team is looking for.
Averaging 24.5 points, the 6'3" point guard also shot 40.9 percent from the three-point line and pulled down five rebounds per contest last season.
The deep range and the ability to finish at the rim are extremely valuable in the NBA, but his overall ability to be a facilitator will be in question regardless of which team he ends up with.
As an athletic, scoring point guard, the question becomes whether Lillard will excel in the way Russell Westbrook has with the Oklahoma City Thunder, or struggle to adjust the way Jerryd Bayless did in his early days with the Blazers.
Like his brother, Cody, the 7'0" center can run the floor extremely well.
He's going to need to bulk up, but a decent offensive game both at the rim and beyond the free-throw line could help take the pressure off of LaMarcus Aldridge down low.
How high his ceiling goes is questionable, but alongside an All-Star power forward, Zeller could be the guy who holds down fort in the paint for the Blazers next season.