2012 NBA Draft: What Should the Trail Blazers Do with Their Draft Picks?
This is probably the deepest draft the NBA has seen since the star-studded draft of 2003. There may not be as much star power compared to the '03 version, but this draft is filled with impact players who will make the regular rotation on their prospective squads.
The Blazers have holes to fill all over their roster—specifically at point guard and at center. If they wanted to use those picks to fill the holes, it could net some pretty nice, young players. If they packaged those picks, the Blazers may be able to swing a trade for a star to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. Neither of those would be bad options, but what would be the best option?
To be honest, the Blazers should probably do both.
The Blazers' most pressing need is the point guard position. With the exception of the Andre Miller experiment, the Blazers really have not had a good floor general since Damon Stoudamire and Derek Anderson were dishing the rock close to 10 years ago.
Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten all have incredible potential, but it's unlikely that any of them transition into a game-changing point guard. Taking any of those guys with a lottery pick would be a pretty hefty risk.
The Blazers are much better off swinging a trade for a point guard or finding one via free agency. Some options include the following: Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowery, Darren Collison, Aaron Brooks and Eric Bledsoe. Personally, I think Dragic is the best choice available. However, Portland has never been a preferred destination for in-demand free agents, and Dragic should field some pretty nice offers.
What should the Blazers do with their picks?
With the free agency period beginning in July, it would probably be wiser to use a draft pick as part of a trade for a point guard rather than hope to lure one to the Pacific Northwest. Bottom line: The Blazers cannot go into training camp without a solid player manning the point if they have any intention of getting back to the playoffs.
As for the center position, the Blazers' best option would be to fill that void by drafting a big man.
First off, the Blazers are going to have to tie up a significant amount of their salary in retaining the services of Nic Batum, and the quality big men who are available will command most of what is left over. With only a few guys under contract for next season, that cap money needs to be spread around a little bit more than that.
In addition, when teams have a quality big man, they don't give those guys up without getting a bigger return on their investment. If the Blazers were trying to swing a trade for a serviceable big, it would probably cost them Batum, a pick and cash considerations. They would likely also have to take on a pretty lucrative contract.
Second off, center is the position that translates best from one level of competition to the next. Teams have a great sense of what they are getting in a big man at the time they draft him. Big men who dominate the high school/college ranks usually do very well in the pros. Big men who were drafted based on potential usually spend their entire careers not living up to it (look no further than Kwame Brown).
The Blazers need a big man to pair alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. If they can't convince Joel Freeland to come over from Europe—and it doesn't look like they can—getting a big man in the draft is the best way to build for the future.
The Blazers have several options, and they should be the subject of a lot of trade chatter leading up to the June 26 draft. I just hope they don't make any moves without understanding what they would be giving up.
Two lottery picks could turn the franchise back into a contender, but a miss on either or both of those picks could send the franchise even further into a downward spiral. No pressure, Neil Olshey. No pressure.
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