NBA Draft: How it might shake out for the Portland Trail Blazers
Now that you've seen all the mock drafts and predictions about who the Portland Trail Blazers might pick at No. 7 in the June 23 NBA Draft, it's time for a realistic look at what will go down: Portland trades the pick.
General manager Joe Cronin said at the end of the season that veterans help win games more than rookies, and the Blazers have given every indication that's what they plan to do. Rumors and reports have linked Portland to numerous names in trades this offseason.
With that in mind, and it being baseball season officially now, we take a look at some of the scenarios that fans can expect come Thursday in Brooklyn.
The biggest need for Portland, for a while, has been finding two forwards who are decent enough two-way players. So it's no surprise the trades the Blazers are linked to are for players who have proven that ability in the NBA.
If things go the way Portland hopes they do, there are three players that seem to be at the top of the list. Getting two of the three would be a huge success.
Those three are OG Anunoby from Toronto, John Collins from Atlanta and Jerami Grant from Detroit. All three are capable scorers who aren't a liability on defense, something Portland has missed over the years.
Looking at Anunoby, Toronto has only one pick in the draft at No. 33 after finishing at the No. 5 seed in the East last season. The Raptors have said they don't believe any reports on Anunoby being unhappy with his role however, and Toronto's spoken plan has been to keep the roster intact with some minor adjustments this offseason.
Reports on Collins came during the season about potential frustration on the Hawks as he had his lowest scoring average since his rookie season (16.2).
After a disappointing follow-up season to its Eastern Conference Finals run in 2021, Atlanta could be looking to shake things up. Might trading Collins for a No. 7 pick be that move?
As for Grant, the Blazers have been connected with the Detroit star for a while. Even Blazers players themselves have teased the rumors on social media.
But, Grant does make a lot of sense in Portland? He has shown he can be a scorer in the league during his two years in Detroit after being viewed as a more defensive player during his time in Oklahoma City and Denver, where he helped the Nuggets make the Western Conference Finals in his lone season there.
Maybe the Pistons believe Grant is part of their future alongside Cade Cunningham, or maybe Grant has been a stopgap the whole time and now is the time to trade for more future pieces.
To pull off two of these trades, it wouldn't be a surprise if it takes all three of Portland's picks this year (No. 36 and No. 57 in the second round). But that would be just fine if two of these guys come to Rose City.
Portland is going to swing for the fences, but more likely the ball stays in the park. A more realistic outcome that would still be a positive step is grabbing one of the trio listed above.
It's possible the Blazers grab one of those three without giving up the No. 7 pick.
Portland might aim to trade off other pieces before the No. 7 pick, such as the 2025 Milwaukee first-round pick it received from the New Orleans trade not hitting, or even their own first-round picks over the next few years.
A trade that involves pieces outside of the No. 7 pick leaves the option open of using it on a high lottery guy. Jeremy Sochan, Dyson Daniels, Shaedon Sharpe and Tari Eason might still be on the board. And, in a perfect world, maybe even Keegan Murray.
This wouldn't be adding the two veteran forwards that the Blazers need, but it would still bring in one and give Portland a chance at developing another.
Everyone digs the long ball, but a double is the dirty work that sets up a team to score. In the Blazers case, this could be the move that sets up for something bigger down the road.
Portland can't land two of the trio veteran forwards targeted, and they can't get one of them without giving up No. 7.
Instead of losing a draft pick though, the Blazers move back in the draft and get a chance at a mid-round player they like. In that scenario, the trade is most likely with Atlanta for Collins as the Hawks have the No. 16 pick while Detroit and Toronto don't have any mid-round picks.
Chicago is sitting at No. 18 and Portland has been mentioned to have interest in Zach LaVine, but those rumors seemed to cool off.
Sitting in the middle, players like Eason, Arizona's Dalen Terry and Ousmane Dieng could be available. They project as more long-term projects, but their talent is still strong enough to see Portland take a chance on them coming off the bench.
Collins or LaVine plus a mid-round player isn't the biggest splash, but it's still a strong step in the right direction for a Portland squad looking to load up around the draft with the free agent market this offseason viewed as a lackluster one.
Nothing real exciting with a minor step toward the goal, but plenty of work left. This is the scenario where Portland isn't able to land any of the targeted NBA veterans and instead adds a player for depth.
Portland could draft at No. 7 and use later picks or other assets on a lesser NBA veteran. The Blazers could also trade back for someone not as high on the list, like a Charlotte trade for Kelly Oubre Jr or with Miami for Caleb Martin.
From there, they can draft one of the mid-round guys talked about above to give a slight upgrade to the 3 and 4 spots.
The Blazers get a guy who's had plenty of NBA minutes, but isn't someone you necessarily think is a starter for an NBA champion squad. Like the double, this move is setting up for the future and gives Portland an improved 2022-2023 season, but doesn't lift them to serious threat.
As you can probably guess, things go nothing like the Blazers want in this scenario. Which still isn't terrible, but Portland will be well behind other teams in the West.
This scenario probably means no real significant trades and Portland using most of their 2022 picks. That's still not a terrible outcome as it would get a fresh group of youngsters to play and develop.
As mentioned before, this isn't seen as a big year in free agency. Most of Portland's trade pieces lie in draft stock, so post-draft trades don't seem likely unless its one of the players Cronin considers the core six (Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, Josh Hart, Justise Winslow and Nassir Little).
We'll see how it all shakes out though when the draft begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23 on ABC and ESPN. Check pamplinmedia.com for updates.
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