Portland Trail Blazers: 5 Players Who Could Help Blazers Recover Next Season
The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off one of the most disappointing years in franchise history, but with money to spend and draft picks to use, the team’s rebuilding stage could quickly come to an end with a playoff push next season.
The point guard and center position are the two biggest areas of concerns for this team, but adding talent should also be a priority moving forward.
If the team can add a couple of solid pieces to the rotation next season, last year’s debacle could be quickly forgotten by the time the 2012-13 NBA season kicks off next fall.
The Trail Blazers have been searching for their point guard of the future for years now, and with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Damian Lillard could be the long-awaited answer at the floor general position.
A product of Weber State, Lillard enters the NBA facing questions about the competition he faced at the collegiate level, but averaging 24.5 points per game last year—the second most in all of college basketball—shows that the talent is there.
A score-first point guard, Lillard has the athletic ability to finish above the rim and the shooting touch to score beyond the three-point line.
Lillard is a bit of a risk, but with an incredible skill set and tremendous upside, he could be a player who moves Portland in the right direction for the 2012-13 season.
Acquiring Bradley Beal is going to require some serious wheeling and dealing on draft day—something the Blazers have become quite familiar with over the past few seasons.
The unexpected retirement of Brandon Roy last offseason left the Trail Blazers with a void at the shooting guard position, and a player of Beal’s caliber could help the team and its fans recover from the loss of their star player.
Beal is a bit of an undersized 2-guard, but with a deadly deep-range shot and the ability to take over a game in crunch time, the former Florida Gator could be a perfect addition to the Blazers’ rebuilding rotation.
If the Blazers opt to use their lottery picks on big men or perimeter players, Goran Dragic could be the team’s primary target in free agency.
Having learned behind Steve Nash early in his career, his style somewhat resembles the 38-year-old veteran.
An uptempo player who can get to the rim, find his open teammates and hit the open jumper, Dragic can get it done in both the half-court and fast-break settings.
At 26 years old, Dragic should be entering the prime of his career. Coming off his best year thus far, he could help the Blazers quickly forget about last season's failed Raymond Felton experiment.
Restricted free-agent Roy Hibbert is going to be one of the toughest free agents to snag this offseason.
Anything less than a max-dollar deal should be picked up by the Indiana Pacers without a second thought, and even a maximum contract is going to warrant serious consideration by the team that fought hard in this year’s postseason.
Finally having severed ties with Greg Oden this season, the Blazers need to address the center position, and Hibbert is the kind of player you can rely on to make a difference on both ends of the floor.
If the Blazers want to take a run at the big man this summer, they’ll have to make an offer right away. If Nicolas Batum accepts a deal anywhere other than Portland, the Blazers will have less than a week to sign another player before Batum’s new contract—should the team decide to match it—begins to count against the organization’s cap space.
Nobody’s going to call Steve Nash the point guard of the future in Portland, but following a year that saw such incompetent play at the floor general position, a future Hall of Famer wouldn’t look too bad in Rip City next season.
Nash is arguably the greatest shooting point guard in the history of the NBA, and his pick-and-roll game is about as good as it gets.
The Blazers are entering a state of transition, and there will be a number of new faces on the roster next season—many of them young.
Next year’s team is going to need veteran leadership, and while LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be that guy moving forward, a player of Nash’s stature would do a young group wonders when it comes to getting back to the playoffs next season.