Portland Trail Blazers Draft Day Game Plan Part 1: Point Guards
As I woke up this morning, I went through the motions of my daily routine. I took a shower, ate some breakfast, and checked the rumor mill on espn.go.com.
Then it hit me, as it should have hit all other NBA junkies, that the 2009 NBA Draft is less than one week away.
It feels like time has just blown by. It seems as if the Lakers won the Finals just yesterday.
With the draft rapidly approaching it comes time to brainstorm as to what moves each team will make.
The Portland Trail Blazers are the league's up-and-coming superpower. They have a solid nucleus with two-time all star, and All-NBA third team shooting guard Brandon Roy, soon-to-be all star LaMarcus Aldridge, and up-and-coming center in Greg Oden.
The Blazers have some solid contributors off the bench, including Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, and Joel Przybilla.
They also have a couple project players in Nicolas Batum and Jerryd Bayless, who probably will be the small forward and point guard of the future for this loaded Blazers team.
Something was missing however in the first round of the playoffs. The Blazers showed no depth at the power and small forward positions, with not much more at the point.
Many questions have surrounded these vacancies. Should Portland plug the holes with more young talent, or go after an established NBA veteran during the free agency?
First, assuming that the Blazers make no trades, that they do not go after any free agents, that general manager looks solely at the draft, let's look at possible candidates for the Blazers' No. 24 pick.
First off, this year's draft is not particularly deep overall, but there is quite enough depth at the point. If Kevin Pritchard is looking at not moving whatsoever, the Blazers most likely will have their pick from two talented point guards: Ty Lawson of North Carolina, and Darren Collison of UCLA.
Looking at Chad Ford's fifth mock draft on espn.go.com, he has Sacramento, one pick ahead of Portland nabbing Ty Lawson, and for good reason. On John Hollinger's player rater, which predicts each player's PER rating in his third season, Ty Lawson ranked No. 1. He could be the steal of the draft if other organizations don't take heed.
Darren Collison's appears at No. 18 on John Hollinger's draft rater. Although he is smaller than your average point guard, Collison can make up for his height disadvantage with his stellar defense. He would be a big improvement over the Blazers' starting point guard, Steve Blake.
In one of Chad Ford's previous mock drafts, he had Portland drafting Florida-bred point guard Nick Calathes. Calathes has raced to Greece, hoping to make more money, but still has maintained his eligibility in case the whole Greece thing doesn't work out.
In case you're wondering, Calathes ranked No. 6 on Hollinger's draft rater. That's No.3 for point guards.
Now, if Portland wanted to make a run at Davidson's Stephen Curry, which is always a possibility, Portland would have to make a deal, which is also always a possibility when Kevin Pritchard is behind the steering wheel.
It has been confirmed that PG Sergio Rodriguez will not be in a Blazers uniform in 2010. His contract is not expiring so that means he is either being traded or waived.
Rodriguez is the kind of point guard that would flourish in a run-and-gun offense, or in a system resembling that of New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.
In Chad Ford's mock draft, he has Stephen Curry being taken seventh, by the Golden State Warriors. Would an offer of let's say, Sergio Rodriguez, Portland's No. 24 pick, and maybe one of their four second round picks be enough to lure Stephen Curry towards the Blazers?
What about in the free agent market? There are some point guards that could don a Blazers uniform in 2010.
NBA point guards that will become free agents this offseason include Atlanta's Mike Bibby, Boston's Stephon Marbury, Charlotte's Raymond Felton, Chicago's Lindsey Hunter, Dallas' Jason Kidd, Denver's Anthony Carter, Indiana's Jarrett Jack, Memphis' Juan Carlos Navarro, Milwaukee's Ramon Sessions, New York's Nate Robinson, and Philadelphia's Andre Miller.
Of these players, the most notable are Bibby, Marbury, Felton, Kidd, Sessions, Robinson, and Miller.
But if Kevin Pritchard decides to go the free agency route, whom of these players should he go after?
Of these players, Bibby, Marbury, Kidd, and Miller will become unrestricted free agents, meaning that their respective teams cannot match an offer given to said player if it puts the team above the luxury tax line.
While all of these players could contribute right off the bat, they are all in the later stages of their careers and would only be quick fixes. No, if Portland wants to solidify their point guard rotation for years to come, Pritchard needs to nab one of the restricted free agents.
Of the restricted free agents, meaning that their teams can go over the luxury tax line to match an offer, the most notable are Felton, Sessions, and Robinson.
It is almost a guarantee that the Bobcats will not let Felton go, as he and D.J. Augustine can form a pretty solid rotation.
Both Sessions and Robinson will most likely be let go, as Milwaukee is suffering from severe financial constraints, and New York is gearing up for the "summer of LeBron."
But of the two, I would give the edge to Sessions. He has the height, the quickness, the basketball IQ, the works. Robinson can score, but really that's all you can expect from him, as he is a scoring point guard whereas Sessions is a pass-first point guard.
So, after all the deliberation, Portland has five potential additions to their roster at the point guard position. They could trade up in the draft to nab Stephen Curry, or they could stay at No. 24 and pick either Ty Lawson, Nick Calathes, or Darren Collison. The Blazers could also go after Ramon Sessions in the free agency.
Whatever the action, I am 100% confident that Kevin Pritchard will make the right decision. Portland's "Golden Boy" surely will pull off another draft day miracle, and some unlucky team will be icing their cheeks after they've been "Pritch-slapped."
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