2011 NBA Draft: 6 Ideas the Portland Trail Blazers Must Consider
The 2011 NBA Draft is right around the corner, with owners and general managers scrambling to make possible decisions on what they're going to do in the next few days.
Some include trades. Some include picking the player they want.
But we will see what happens when the time comes.
The Portland Trail Blazers are wanting to contend right now, and they need to make accurate decisions at the draft if they want to get into the upper echelon of top-tier teams.
The Blazers still have some needs they need to meet, and here are six ideas they should consider in this next week.
Trade out of the First Round Altogether
The Blazers have the No. 21 and No. 51 selections in the draft. However, it would be wise to trade out of the first-round pick and try to land a veteran that can help their team right now.
Let's face it: This is probably the weakest draft since 2000, when the Nets selected Cincinnati forward Kenyon Martin with the first-overall selection.
There are a couple of hits in this year's draft, but there are also a lot of misses. The Blazers need to realize that before they miss entirely and possibly waste a good selection if they use their first-round pick.
There are quite a few quality prospects that are projected to go around No. 21, according to multiple mock drafts around the web.
Those prospects include such players as Kenneth Faried, Marshon Brooks, Darius Miller, Nolan Smith, Trey Thompkins and Justin Harper.
All the above athletes are quality players, but can they really contribute right away? I don't think any one of them could make an immediate impact on a potential championship team.
The Blazers need to be cautious when using their first-round selection.
Use Their First-Round Pick on Kenneth Faried
Although he is just 6'7" (some say 6'8"), Kenneth Faried is perhaps the most ferocious player in the draft. He's like the second coming of the Rockets' Chuck Hayes, but just a little bit scrappier.
Actually, he's a lot scrappier.
This acquisition is solely based on that fact the Blazers need a big man behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby. They also need to re-sign Greg Oden in hopes of bettering the frontcourt. The drafting of Faried will give the Blazers one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the NBA.
Faried will bring a lot to the table to whoever drafts him, and hopefully that's Portland.
He's one of the best rebounders in this year's class, along with the most intense player. He's like a lightning rod of energy as he just grabs up rebounds anywhere and everywhere. Faried led the nation in rebounds last season with a healthy 13.3 per game average.
Faried is not the most offensively gifted player in the draft, but his skills have improved substantially. He was one of the most dominant big men in the paint last season, and I think he can overcome his height disadvantage to become a solid threat inside.
I think there is a very good possibility he could help the Blazers with his intensity and great rebounding ability at some point this season, but only time will tell.
Attempt to Deal Point Guard Andre Miller
Don't get me wrong: Andre Miller is a great player, but I'm just not 100 percent sure he could lead the Blazers deep into the playoffs.
It may be time for Portland to deal the veteran point guard in hopes of acquiring a much younger starter with great potential and a decent amount of NBA experience.
There are a few names that come to mind, such as Raymond Felton, Brandon Jennings, Devin Harris and Aaron Brooks (although he is currently a free agent).
Even though he has been in the league for awhile, Baron Davis is also a player the front office needs to look into.
With a young corp that already features Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy, it may be time for the Blazers to think about changing up the point guard position altogether.
Unfortunately, the team just isn't cutting it with Andre Miller controlling the offense. Historically, he is a good player, but he's just at the point in his career that his minutes and abilities start to decline.
Move Up to Acquire UConn Star Kemba Walker
Lately, there has been talk that the Blazers front office employees are drooling at the possibility of getting Kemba Walker on their team.
It has been rumored the Blazers want to do a deal with either Toronto (No. 5 pick) or Sacramento (No. 7 pick) in hopes of acquiring Walker, who led his UConn Huskies to a national championship last season.
A deal of this magnitude would likely include point guard Andre Miller, their No. 21 pick, and possibly players like Rudy Fernandez, Luke Babbitt or Brandon Roy.
Portland believes Walker is their point guard of the future and would fit perfectly into their offensive scheme.
Of course, it would take time to develop Walker, who would be without a veteran point guard to mentor him and mold him from NCAA player to NBA player.
Although I doubt it'd happen, the drafting of Walker could also turn into a valuable trade chip as the Blazers would love to land current Hornets point guard Chis Paul, who has listed the Blazers as a possible destination.
But one thing we do know for sure is that the Blazers will need a lot of luck to acquire Walker.
Use the No. 51 Pick Wisely; Attempt to Find a Diamond in the Rough
Most teams, when using their late second-round selection, tend to just throw in the towel and draft a player they don't expect to make the roster but feel like giving him a shot, at the very least.
But history has shown us there are some hidden gems in the second round of the draft, such as Stephen Jackson, Michael Redd, Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili, and so on.
If the Blazers can find that possible gem, they'd come back looking like geniuses.
Although the No. 51 pick is towards the end of the draft, there are still quite a few hungry players who want to earn their spot on an NBA team. The problem is just finding that one guy.
I believe there a couple of possible candidates, although some of them might mean the Blazers need to move up in the second round. This list of players includes the likes of Keith Benson, Demetri McCamey, Jimmy Butler, Rick Jackson and LaceDarius Dunn.
The Blazers did find a very small gem in 2009 when they drafted point guard Patrick "Patty" Mills with the No. 55 selection.
Mills has shown promise as he played behind Andre Miller. Last season, in approximately 12.2 minutes per game, Mills scored 5.5 points and dished out 1.7 assists per game. They may not be the best numbers in the world, but he can only get better, as he is an established shooter.
Try to Get Rid of Rudy Fernandez
It may be time for the Blazers to deal away Rudy Fernandez, who has once-upon-a-time expressed his anguish and dismay of playing on the Blazers. Lately, he has said he would prefer to stay, but his status is up in the air at the moment.
Personally, I think the Blazers should get rid of him, as he is a great trade chip. He has an incredibly low contract and is considered to be a prolific scorer—at times.
There are many teams in the NBA right now that could really use a shooter, and I'm sure they'd be in love with the hope of acquiring Fernandez.
Portland could possibly deal Fernandez for a back-up big man it desperately needs.
The Blazers have a weak frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby being the only quality big men under contract for next season.
Center and former first-overall selection Greg Oden is set to be a free agent this summer.