Portland Trail Blazers Draft Day Game Plan Part Three: Power Forwards

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IJune 21, 2009

This is the third and final installment in my Draft Day Game Plan mini series. We've already discussed the Trail Blazers' needs at the point and the three.

Now it comes time to search for a backup power forward, a missing link, to fully complete the Blazers' roster.

First, let's look through the NBA Draft.

If you don't know Blake Griffin's name, or who he is, than you probably don't watch college basketball. Griffin, who will more than likely be the first pick in Thursday's NBA draft was the best player in college basketball this season.

A dominant big-man, he tied the NCAA record with 30 double-doubles in his sophomore season.

There is no way in hell that the Blazers will be able to trade for Blake Griffin unless Kevin Pritchard cuts off both his arms and legs, and sells the Clippers his first-born child.

What other notable power forwards are in the NBA draft this year?

Arizona's Jordan Hill, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair, Wake Forest's James Johnson, and Xavier's Derrick Brown are all projected to be first round draft picks in Chad Ford's fifth mock draft on espn.go.com.

Coupling that with John Hollinger's draft rater, where each collegiate prospect's PER rating after three season is predicted, only two of the above athletes make the top 12: Blake Griffin and DeJuan Blair.

Tyler Hansbrough falls in at No. 24, with two Missouri-bred power forwards, Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, falling in at 20 and 23 respectively.

What's to say about the other projected first round power forwards when two projected second round power forwards surpass them on the PER scale.

Granted, the rater isn't always correct, but most of the teams who take heed are satisfied with the results.

For the Blazers, DeJuan Blair would be a quick fix. I would caution the Blazers to stay away from him as he has had injury problems with both his knees.

Tyler Hansbrough could add some toughness that team captain Brandon Roy desires, but he would have major disadvantages in height, weight, and speed compared to established NBA power forwards.

Arizona State's Jeff Pendergraph could be another possibility. He's pretty much a carbon copy of LaMarcus Aldridge.

What about free agency?

NBA power forwards that will become free agents this offseason include Glen Davis and Leon Powe of Boston, Joe Smith and Anderson Varejao of Cleveland, Dallas' Brandon Bass, Denver's Chris Andersen, Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace of Detroit, Indiana's Josh McRoberts, Memphis' Hakkim Warrick, Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva, David Lee and Al Harrington of New York, Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer of Utah, and Washington's Etan Thomas.

Out of these power forwards, the most notable are Powe, Varejao, Bass, Andersen, McDyess, Wallace, Villanueva, Lee, Millsap, Boozer, and Thomas.

We can definitely eliminate Rasheed Wallace from this list, as Portland GM Kevin Pritchard will not bring back Rash-weed to Portland. We've moved past the "Jail-Blazers" era.

Millsap can also be eliminated. He is a restricted free agent, which means that Utah can eclipse the luxury tax threshold to sign him by matching any offer another team sends him. There is no way in hell that Jerry Sloan will let Millsap go.

Boozer can also be eliminated. Putting him in the same locker room with Joel Przybilla is never a good idea. Same goes with Chris Andersen.

Villanueva can also be eliminated. He's had a couple instances of "lack of character." He also would not want to backup LaMarcus Aldridge. He would want to start, which would only happen in case of injury.

That leaves us with Leon Powe, Anderson Varejao, Brandon Bass, Antonio McDyess, David Lee, and Etan Thomas.

Of these remaining options Powe and Lee are both restricted free agents.

It was reported through the rumor mill on espn.go.com that if the Knicks select Arizona PF Jordan Hill with their No. 8 pick, they will most definitely let David Lee go, most likely through a sign-and-trade deal. It was also said that their most likely trade partner would be Portland.

What I am hearing from many of my colleagues is that David Lee wouldn't accept the "garbage minutes" backing up LaMarcus Aldridge. My answer to that is that Lee wouldn't have to play garbage time.

A good chunk of the minutes Aldridge gathered were at the five spot. This was due to the fact that Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla had a difficult time staying out of foul trouble.

Because both players will be working extensively this summer at big man camps, look for the fouls to decrease significantly. This means that Aldridge wouldn't have to play the five, and that he would be able to rest more. In turn, this would give David Lee more minutes.

Antonio McDyess is also an intriguing option. He is entering the twilight of his NBA career, but his game fits perfectly with the Blazers' style of play. He can force his way through the paint, and isn't afraid to sacrifice his body on the defensive side of the ball.

Brandon Bass' name has also been mentioned. The only thing that concerns me is his height. At 6'8'' he would have a height disadvantage against most other NBA power forwards.

Etan Thomas is a monster on defense, but his offensive game is simply abysmal. The thing I love about him though is that he has one of the biggest work ethics I've ever seen. He has the determination to improve, which any coach loves.

On to the possible options.

1) Portland uses their No. 24 pick or trades up in the draft to select someone like Tyler Hansbrough or Jeff Pendergraph.

2) Portland takes part in a sign-and-trade deal with New York and lands David Lee.

3) Portland signs Antonio McDyess in free agency.

Whatever the case, I'm sure Kevin Pritchard will make the right decision. All we have to do now is wait as the clock slowly ticks toward Thursday.


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