What Blazers Should Do With 10th Pick
The Portland Trail Blazers have the 10th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft after finishing last year with a 33-49 record. What should they do with that pick? We asked several HOOPSWORLD writers to weigh in and discuss the Blazers’ options.
Draft Mason Plumlee
The Portland Trail Blazers have made it clear that their goal is to upgrade at the center position. While they already invested in a young five man last year in Meyers Leonard and have the cap space to sign a veteran in free agency, the right pick for them to make is Mason Plumlee.
Plumlee has fallen out of favor in some talent evaluators eyes, but the fact of the matter is that he is as physically gifted as any player in this draft and ready to play in the NBA. Plumlee is coming off of a huge senior year at Duke, where he played most of his career without a true point guard. The only year he had a true point guard was during Kyrie Irving’s short time as a Blue Devil, which he spent most of injured. With the reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard running the show, Plumlee should find himself open more than he has in years.
The addition of Plumlee would ease the pressure of signing a top-ranked free agent center, which will not be an easy task this offseason. There is going to be a lot of competition for their services, but Plumlee ensures that they have a true big man next to Aldridge next year. In the case that they are able to sign a Nikola Pekovic or Al Jefferson, Leonard becomes expendable or Plumlee could be used at both interior positions.
The Blazers are two years removed from the playoffs, but have a strong core in place with Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. All that is left is adding the right complimentary pieces, and Plumlee is just that. With his experience, versatility and athleticism, he’ll be able to fit in right away and help the Trail Blazers get back into the Western Conference’s top eight.
- Yannis Koutroupis
Draft C.J. McCollum
The first 70 games of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2012-2013 campaign were an unexpectedly positive experience for a franchise that has fallen on hard times as of late. Portland was a contender for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference for most of the year before stumbling down the stretch – losing 12 straight contests to close the season.
As a result, the Blazers have a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft for the second consecutive season. Portland ended up selecting 2013 Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard at six overall this past year and hope to strike gold once again this summer.
One intriguing option could arise should Portland have the opportunity to snatch combo guard C.J. McCollum off of the board should he fall to 10th overall. Because of his size (measuring in at just over 6-foot-3 inches in shoes) and skill set, McCollum may be better suited for the shooting guard position at the NBA-level. This would be a perfect fit for a Blazers’ squad that already features it’s point guard of the future, but lacks a difference maker at the two-guard position.
His body of work speaks for itself as McCollum was as dominant and consistent of a scorer as there was in college this past season. The Lehigh standout averaged 23.9 points per game this past year while also shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and making 51.6 percent of his 3-pointers.
If McCollum is indeed on the board when the Blazers’ pick comes around at 10th overall, the versatile scorer would be a steal for Portland. If selected, the Blazers would possess a young and lethal scoring backcourt that would rival many NBA teams.
- Derek Page
Draft Rudy Gobert
Last year the Portland Trail Blazers began the process of addressing their gaping hole at center by first drafting Meyers Leonard and then trying to sign Roy Hibbert away from the Indiana Pacers. Indiana, of course, wrapped Hibbert up long-term, and Leonard was little more than a project at center this season.
With that in mind, it’s likely that Portland will once again look to the middle as they make their selection with the tenth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. International prospect Rudy Gobert has some work to do before he’s ready to take the NBA by storm, but you can’t team 7’2″, and that’s what makes him a great choice for Portland. He’s quick, and makes up for his lack of physical strength with his ability to finish around the rim.
What Portland needs is someone who can defend the paint, which Gobert can, and someone who will give both Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge a target at the rim, also right in Gobert’s wheelhouse. He’ll need to spend a great deal of time in the weight room to avoid getting pushed around by the bigger, more physical players he’ll face in the NBA, but Gobert looks like another piece of Portland’s solution at center.
- Bill Ingram
Draft Cody Zeller
As the others have pointed out, the Blazers’ biggest need seems to be center. Portland may address this need in free agency, but it couldn’t hurt for them to draft another big who can play the four and five and develop alongside their young core.
If Cody Zeller is available at 10, he would be the best pick for the Blazers. The idea of Zeller being drafted in the double digits would have sounded ridiculous a few months ago, when Zeller was being projected as a top-three pick, with some discussion about him going first overall. However, Zeller’s season at Indiana was considered a disappointment because he didn’t improve his numbers across the board and the team failed to meet expectations.
Even though Zeller didn’t have the best season, he’s still the player that people fell in love with that last, the one who has a wide array of post moves, freakish athleticism and plenty of potential. Zeller reminded the basketball world of his abilities at the draft combine in Chicago several weeks ago.
Zeller’s no-step vertical of 35.5 inches was not only the highest in the draft but set the combine-record for a player 6’9 or above. Also, his modified lane agility time (2.69 seconds) and three-quarter-court sprint (3.5 seconds) ranked as the fastest among centers and power forwards.
Because Zeller has been performing well lately and helping his stock, it’s possible that he’ll get selected before the Blazers are on the clock. However, if he’s available, he should be their guy.
- Alex Kennedy