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NBA Draft 2012: Why Portland Trail Blazers Must Trade Up to Take Bradley Beal

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 18:  Bradley Beal #23 of the Florida Gators looks to pass in the seocnd half against the Norfolk State Spartans during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 18, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2012

The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be shopping their No. 4 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and with the Portland Trail Blazers as a potential suitor, the team must be aggressive in their attempt to bring Bradley Beal to Rip City next season.

Holding the No. 6 pick in the upcoming draft, the Blazers will have their sights set on a number of different high-risk, high-reward prospects this summer, such as Connecticut’s Andre Drummond and Weber State’s Damian Lillard.

Beal could prove to be much more of a sure thing, as he doesn’t appear to have the concerns that Drummond and Lillard bring with them as they transition to the NBA game next year.

Measuring almost 6’5” at the draft combine, the former Florida Gator will bring a deep-range shot and clutch shooting with him to the NBA as a rookie—both are categories the Blazers lacked during the 2011-12 regular season.

The biggest problem in trading up to the fourth pick is that Beal may not even make it out of the top three. It’s a problem worth having, though, if you’re Portland as the draft is stacked with more talent than we’ve seen in recent years.

Giving up two lottery picks for Beal would be a big-time sacrifice to the team’s depth next season, but the Trail Blazers need to acquire the best talent available to take the pressure off LaMarcus Aldridge moving forward.

Trading for the fourth pick would not only give the Blazers a potential superstar to add to their roster, but it might also help the team steer clear of temptation and avoid selecting a risky prospect like Drummond.

The Blazers have a glaring hole at the center position, and the 6’11", 275-pound center from Connecticut is one of the better talents of the entire 2012 draft class. If he’s on the table at No. 6, Portland would be hard-pressed not to take him.

However, concerns regarding his effort and low-post skills—not to mention the Blazers’ history with big men—make him a major question mark, and with the No. 4 pick, the team could draft a player with fewer concerns.

Questions about depth are legitimate, but let’s not forget that the Trail Blazers have money to spend in the free-agent market this summer.

Portland has never been a big-time free-agent destination, so while fans in Rip City would like to see Deron Williams sign a max-dollar offer to take his talents to Portland, signing a competent point guard and adding depth will be the goal this offseason.

A large chunk of the money could disappear if the team retains Nicolas Batum as a restricted free agent, but even if that’s the case, the money left over would go toward adding pieces to the roster, compensating for the loss of the No. 11 pick.

The Blazers have two major needs in the rotation—point guard and center. While Beal doesn’t fill either of these holes, he does add depth to a position that has been in question ever since Brandon Roy unexpectedly retired last offseason.

Aldridge is an All-Star, but he needs a consistent second option if the team is going to make a push sooner rather than later.

Beal can be that player, and if the Blazers are smart, they’ll do what it takes to get him in Portland next season.

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