Lillard, Leonard might be starters for Blazers
The Trail Blazers’ draft picks at No. 6 and 11 were predictable and at the same time logical and well-placed. Talent and need intersected perfectly. Time will tell, but it has the makings of a draft that is at worst solid, at best outstanding.
Portland chose Weber State point guard Damian Lillard with the sixth pick and took Illinois center Meyers Leonard with the 11th selection.
The 6-3, 195-pound Lillard, the nation’s No. 2 scorer last season at 24.5 points per game, will likely be Portland’s starting point guard as a rookie next season.
“At the sixth selection, we felt like we found our franchise point guard,” new general manager Neil Olshey said.
Leonard, at 7-1 1/4 the tallest player taken in the first round, could become the starting center immediately, depending on whom the Blazers acquire through free agency. A franchise big man?
“He has the talent to become that,” Olshey said, “but we’re going to be patient with Meyers.”
Portland’s second-round pick at No. 40, Memphis guard Will Barton, led Conference USA in scoring as a sophomore last season with an 18.0-point average. The Blazers fully expect the 6-6, 175-pound Barton to win a roster spot.
“He’ll be disappointed in being a second-round pick,” said Mike Born, Portland’s director of NBA scouting. “He’ll come to camp with a chip on his shoulder, but that’s good. He’ll have something to prove. I think people will be impressed with his skills.”
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