Chad Buchanan Talks Draft On Courtside
By caseyholdahl Posted in: 2011draft
If you haven't already, go ahead and watch the May 9th edition of Trail Blazers Courtside with Brian Wheeler, Mike Rice and Antonio Harvey that's embedded right up yonder. Guests include assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the Portland Tribune's Kerry Eggers and NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper.
But the stuff I think you'll really be interested in comes courtesy of Chad Buchanan, our director of college scouting. Buchanan, or "Buck" as he's know around the practice facility, talks about the underclassmen who decided to go back to school, how said underclassmen returning has affected the quality of the 2011 Draft, the four-year Dukies, which positions the team might focus on improving through the draft, why the team probably won't have as many workouts at the PF as they've had in recent years and he finishes by lamenting the first round loss to the Mavericks. It's all good.
The questions have been edited so they actually make sense when being read, but Buchanan's quotes are basically verbatim. If you don't beleive me, watch the whole thing, which you should be doing anyway.
The underclassmen who dropped out of the draft, were they wise to do so?
"I'd say some of them were. There were about three or four guys that really surprised a lot of us, that they decided to return to school. I think there were probably at least four guys that would have been in the lottery that decided to return. I think there were about three that would have been in the top five of this draft that decided to return to school. Very rare that something like that happens.
"I think a lot of factors came into play for those guys, All those guys are returning to very good teams and the uncertainty of what is going to happen next year probably factored into some of their decisions with our league. In general it's very rare that those high picks, guys projected to go that high, decide to go back to school. There were some very surprised people in our league yesterday."
Will that make the draft weaker?
"I won't say it's necessarily weaker, but I think there's less potential stars down the road in this draft than there would have been if some of these kids would had stayed in the draft. I always judge the draft by how many potential all-stars or star players are in the draft and there's just not as many of those guys in this one as their have been in the past few years.
"I think there are some guys down in the mid-first round, and even the last first round, that are quality players that are good enough to probably get into an NBA rotation. But there's just not a whole lot of star potential in that group because a lot of those guys are kind of finished products. They're three or four year players coming from good programs that have kind of reached who they're going to become. For a lot of those guys that's good enough to help an NBA team but there's just not a lot of guys that. down the road, are going to be high-ceiling type players."
Talk about some of the four-year guys in this draft.
"Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith had fantastic four-year careers at Duke. Both those guys won a lot of games. Obviously they played for a great coach who prepares guys for the next level. Being through the wars of playing in a big league like that -- you know there's really six major conferences out there and the ACC is right at the top of those six -- and to go through four years of playing on the road at Virginia and at Maryland and at North Carolina and some of those really, really tough environments really seasons kids. To go through the rigors of that for four years really prepares you for the battles that are coming in the NBA. I think those two guys are both great examples of guys who are ready to come in and, neither of those guys are going to be stars at our level. They may not even be starters at our level, but they're ready to help somebody because they've been prepared.
"We've had a couple guys like that. Dante Cunningham was like that, Jeff Pendergraph was like that. They've been through four years of playing in a good league. They didn't have a ton of maybe upside like a lot of people look for in the draft, but they were ready to help and they stepped in and filled their role and did contribute for us."
Some people think the Trail Blazers need to look for a backup point guard in the draft. Is a guy like Nolan Smith the type of player you would take a look at?
"We'll consider all of our options. The point guard position and center positions are areas we need to address at some point for us. We've got two great veterans there in Andre (Miller) and Marcus Camby and some uncertainty with Greg (Oden) moving forward. We've got a couple young guys at the point guard position with Armon (Johnson), Patty (Mills) and Elliot (Williams). The point guard position is a spot we'll take a look at and there's several candidates in this draft that I think will be probably available for us where we're picking. We're going to do our research on those guys like we always do and we'll probably take a pretty hard look at a guy like Nolan Smith."
What do you look at players this time of year?
"This time of year, I just got back from New Jersey. They had about 44 players, some underclassmen, some draft-eligible guys. We had four of us out there: Mike Born, Bill Branch and Steve Rosenbery. We were all out there at that event. Various events like that. Obviously the combine in Chicago is going to be coming up next week and then the Timberwolves host a two-day group workout as well after the combine. This time of year you're doing a lot of film work, you're talking to a lot of people that are associated with the prospect, whether it be their college coaching staff, their high school coaches, their athletic directors, their trainers, their strength coaches, you know, people like that the season is over, they have a chance to reflect and look back and help you get to know some of these guys.
"And then, obviously once you bring them into your facility or you meet with them at some of these events, you get a chance to know them as people as well. It's just kind of like you're at the 20 year line now. You've gone about 60 yards on your drive and you can see the goal line at the end but there's still some pieces you've got to put together to get the full picture on these guys."
Will there be fewer workouts at the practice facility than there have been in years past?
"I think we're going to bring in fewer guys this year. We've brought in anywhere from 55 to 70 players in the past and I think it turns out to be a little more busy work than is probably necessary. You get to know these guys, obviously, during the season and with all the group workouts and the combine, interviewing these guys in other places, it kind of narrows how much you're going to get out of bringing some of these kids that are probably marginal NBA players into your facility. So we're going to scale it back probably this year to 30 to 40 guys that we're going to bring in, be a little more selective on who we're bringing through."
What are your thoughts on the Mavericks sweeping the Lakers to move on to the conference finals?
"The thing they have going for them right now, they have multiple guys playing well at the same time. You look back to when our team was playing well. A couple of years ago when we had that 13-game winning streak, we had like four or five guys all just playing at the top of their game at the same time and that's what the Mavs are doing right now. They've got several guys that are shooting the ball well. They've got guys that have accepted their role. Jason Kidd has been kind of the leader who has kind of steadied the ship for them.
"It's frustrating for me because I look back on that series and I feel like we were right there with that team. I was thinking about this today, you go back to Game 1, we're up six in the fourth quarter and we get that steal right in front of our bench. Gerald gets a steal and you know we didn't convert a two-on-one play that would have put us up eight and really would have put the heat on them. I think back, if we convert that play, I think we could very easily end up winning that series. And that completely changes the complex of the series and where our team's at right now. It just makes you think like, every little play during the course of a playoff series is so crucial.
"I feel like we're really close. I'm obviously happy to see Dallas do well because I really respect their organization, Coach Carlyle and their players. It is kind of refreshing to see them go on and play well against the Lakers. I feel like we're really close though. Our guys realize that their close and we need a couple of pieces probably here and there to get us over the hump next year."