mikebarrett

May 30

A Solid First Step

By mikebarrett Posted in: 2012draft, draft2012, draftlottery

If you had told me before the season started (or even after the first eight or nine games) that we’d be getting prepared to hold a draft lottery party, I wouldn’t have believed it.  But, given what we went through in the final month of the season, this was a welcome shot of excitement and helped turn the page more completely.

Obviously, you can’t change the past, so there’s not much use in second guessing what has been done.  What you can do now is better yourself in the future. Given what happened on Wednesday night, combined with their flexibility heading into the market, this probably should be viewed as a good first step in what will be an eventful summer.

It sounds strange, but what we didn’t want in this draft lottery were surprises- at least until the sixth spot was set.  Yes, things could have worked out slightly better, but given the long odds at that happening, the realistic goal was very much accomplished.  The Trail Blazers were positioned to come up at 11, and that’s what happened.  Perhaps more importantly, New Jersey was positioned to come up 6th, and that’s what happened.

Things haven’t always gone as planned for this team, as you well know, but this was once case where I’m happy to say they did.  Only one other lottery team was as thrilled as Portland following the proceedings, and that of course was New Orleans.  They won the lottery, and will pick first, and 10th. 

More than a celebration, this turned into a giant relief.  Chad Buchanan, who was sequestered in the back room at the lottery, told us as much after things ended.  Wesley Matthews, a guy who wasn’t drafted at all, but now had the honor of representing his team on the dais, smiled and appeared to exhale when New Jersey’s logo was pulled out where it was projected.

Buchanan and his staff have been planning for every possible outcome.  It’s this whole game of if this happens, then what?  Wednesday night was huge for their planning purposes.  And, to land New Jersey’s pick on this night is a huge feather in Buchanan’s cap- the memory of how he surprised many and landed simply the possibility to get the pick should be pointed out, again.

Mike Born told us, and has told us several times in the past few weeks, the team was going forward with the mindset that they would have just one pick, at #11.  Anything else would be gravy.  Now, of course, the pot now is much sweeter. 

The Blazers have had some teams present some fairly impressive offers for that 11th pick, from what I’ve been told.  They’ve been very obvious in getting the word out that one, or both, of those picks are available.  If it’s true that in the weeks leading up to the lottery that they were getting some exciting feelers for the 11th, I suppose it’s safe to imagine the offers will get even more exciting for the sixth pick.  How exciting?  Time will tell.

The next debate has officially been kicked off.  What now?  Use both picks, or trade both picks?  Use one and trade one?  The one thing we do know is that they’ll head into draft day with at least one of those picks.  They can trade one of them at any time leading up to the draft.  The other one could be dealt on the day of the draft, if they choose to do that.  And, even if they use both picks, it doesn’t mean both of those players will be staying in Portland.

Obviously, Anthony Davis will go number one.   And, things will possibly come into greater focus for the next three or four picks.  But, there will be lots of debate after that.  It’s seen as a very deep draft, and that works in Portland’s favor. 

I think the debate at number six, where Portland now sits, is going to be between Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, and Jeremy Lamb.  But, as always, there are linchpins.  One of them, I believe, is Andre Drummond.  He could go as high as number two, or he could slide as far as number seven or eight.  Of all the guys projected to go in the top 10, his position, at this point, seems the most fluid.  He’s been dubbed a project.  Or, in other words, some scouts think he’s gamble.  Those are always the toughest guys to project going into a draft. 

Everyone’s mock drafts are flying now, so we’ll get deeper into all of that stuff later.

It’s pretty simple from here.  Decide what your major need is, as a team, and then pick a path.  I think we all can agree that guard play, especially point-guard play, is incredibly vital, and that seems to be a huge priority for the Blazers.  This is not a point-guard-rich draft.  Are these two lottery picks enough now to trade for the guy you want?  Can you get your guy with just one of the picks, or a combination of a current player and one of the picks?  Will you have the money to be enough of a player on the free-agent market to get him there?  Or, as some people have suggested, do you use both picks to take the best-available players and shift into a bit more of a rebuilding mode?

The pink elephant sitting in the room, of course, is what is going on with the general manager search.  Yep, it’s a huge factor in all of this.  And, if the many rumors are to be believed, it’s reaching a climax.  I’m under the impression that Buchanan still has a shot, and certainly deserves one.  At the very least, he and his staff have put the ball on the tee very nicely for the next guy.  To take over a team with some cap flexibility and two lottery picks, with an owner who is willing to go over the tax to sign his own free agents, isn’t a bad way to walk into a situation and leave a mark.  That’s what many guys are after, and that’s why things simply going as planned in the lottery made this an even more attractive job than it was yesterday.

Step one down.  Step two is coming soon.

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24 Comments

  1. Very good perspective Mike. I don't know the answers to most of the questions that you posed, but I do think it is time to stop dinking around and get a GM. A year has been wasted already. Chad has been a blessing to whoever will take the position. Lets move forward and build a champion.

    by Ancientone on 5/30/2012 9:46 PM
  2. Great to hear you again Mike; I listened to the lottery party TV, that was great.
    I don't know how the Blazers will utilize the assets, I don't know who we will get and who will go, I am just glad that part is behind us and we can move on.

    by Hg on 5/30/2012 10:31 PM
  3. Mike, like I said on your twitter account, don't trade those picks unless you get a game changer back and Rondo is one of those few exceptions since you made a comment about your belief in Rondo. BTW, your blog keeps mentioning "New Jersey". Start typing Brooklyn and get used to saying and typing it very soon. I know, it's going to be hard for most of us who only knew the Nets in New Jersey which was about 35 years or so or even before when they were in Uniondale, New York; if you go that far back depending on when someone starting following the NBA. Heck, it wasn't until like the 3rd time I read New Jersey in your blog that I realized that you were saying New Jersey instead of Brooklyn since I'm so used to calling them New Jersey myself. And they're going to wear black and white colors instead of red, white, and blue. Maybe seeing those jerseys when they released them to the public in September will finally get us to subconsciously start calling them Brooklyn.

    by Shem on 5/31/2012 12:40 AM
  4. @Shem: it is not that I am for or against getting Rondo, it is just the fact that I don't think he is attainable. If the Celtics was to rebuild, wouldn’t they keep a budding star to build around? I know I would. At any rate, other then making a courtesy call, I would but my sights on a more attainable player. I think we could keep our picks and get a solid PG in Lowry, Dragic, Collision, Maybe Dre and many others that are available.
    We need depth, and the draft is a cheap way to build that. With four draft picks, having the Stampede as our Farm team we can give the draftees some experience quickly.
    At six and eleven, if we go with the BPA, we should get at least two worthy players in the draft; since this is such a deep draft because draftees stayed in college instead of going for the draft in a questionable season, the 40th and 41st may produce good trainable players that we can put in our Hybrid team.
    I am not disagreeing with you, I am just saying that with us having the Stampede, the whole playing field changes

    by Hg on 5/31/2012 5:15 AM
  5. good morning MB. i was at a meeting for school and didn't actually get to watch the draft show, sans for the last 15 minutes or so (was able to follow the chat at times). while there was a hopeful feeling that things would go just about this way with the picks, going forward, i remain skeptical those picks will be put to the most effective use.

    the picks could be traded (one or both) or could be used. gonna make this abundantley clear: do NOT trade both picks. first, the draft is too deep through our drafting slots for that. second, those who think the picks will garner us a player like Rondo are mistaken.

    on Rondo: even if the celtics decide to "blow it up", Rondo isn't going anywhere. sure, at the trade deadline, the celtics were listening to offers, but i highly doubt they were seriously considering such offers. bottom line is that team isn't going to mortgage its future while letting go of their best, long-term asset. it just doesn't make sense for them to lose that much competitiveness while alienating their fan base. Rondo is just plain not going to be an option.

    Chad has done a seriveable job as acting GM, and he may be very likeable, but he's not the best solution there. he botched the MillerFelton trade (assuming the deal included the "understanding" we would not take Faried ahead of denver, we essentially traded away Miller, Fernandez & Faried for Felton & N. Smith). The other thing about Chad is that in the past two years we've drafted 4 guards out of 4 picks (4 out of 5 if you consider the Luke trade in there). point being, that's way too guard heavy.

    what we need is a new GM who will step in and expand on what happened wednesday. that doesn't mean trading two lottery picks away on another Felton-type experiment nor rrelying so heavily on the beloved, yet flawed, best player available drafting tactic.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 5/31/2012 6:44 AM
  6. Hey Miss Kassandra:
    Great that you have a little time.
    I surely agree with you on the Rondo trade,
    I am not wise enough to know about trading draft picks

    I am in the camp of keeping our draft picks now that we are in partnership with the Stampede and are taking over the BB operations, That would be much better then sitting on the bench as in the past; there are many things I don't know about what is possible and what is not.

    I am in the camp of bringing over Joe Freeland with a cheaper contract and a hungry center opposed to trading for an elite player, then pick up a center that is somewhat a future center and put him in the D league.
    Then use our cap space and get a good reliable PG, as there are several out there that can be acquired with our cap space; then like the center option; draft a PG that can be trained in the D league with one of our picks. Then use our two second round picks for depth. And of course sign Batum with our Bird rights and hopefully JJ the same way.
    What do you think any basis to my thinking?

    The thing about Chad, I don't agree or disagree with you on him; all the things he was involved with was said to be done by committee, I think Nate had his imprint on the Felton deal, also all the PG drafted. But the main thing it has always said that all transactions are by committee, but when things that were done goes sour, Chad became the scapegoat, as well as Nate. Just saying there are lots of things going on behind closed doors that we are not fully aware of. One more thing one of our priorities is defense; do we draft for D or O or both?

    I thank you for posting; I value your opinion deeply even if they come from a woman and her dad LMAO. See I never forget.

    by Hg on 5/31/2012 8:24 AM
  7. @Hg: I hope I didn't imply that Rondo was available. All I was saying is that if the Blazers trade their draft picks, it better be for someone who can make an impact on the team and Rondo is one of those players. I only mentioned Rondo superficially because of something Mike Barrett mentioned on Twitter. And I even say anything about trading the picks is because there is a lot of talk out there about Portland a trading one or both of their picks and I'm just saying if they're going to do that, they better get an impact player.

    Oh, and the Stampede have always been our farm team, it's just that the Blazers used to share the team with the Denver Nuggets up until recently. That's the only change. Guys like Armon Johnson, Luke Babbitt, and Patty Mills have spent time there already.

    by Shem on 5/31/2012 12:08 PM
  8. @Shem: the Blazers going into full partnership with the stampede gives them the operation part of the Stampede. They will run the same offense and the same defense that the Blazers run, Portland decides what position the players play and how many minutes now, as opposed to The Stampede management calling the shots. Portland can send coaches down there to train them, and injured players to get some easier rehab. Therefore if we send a PG down there we tell them to play him only at PG and for as many minutes as we want.

    My bad on Rondo, I thought you were pushing to get him. and I was just giving you my opinion on it Peace.

    by Hg on 5/31/2012 1:40 PM
  9. just a note on the Stampede being our "farm team." from what i've read, you pretty much nailed it, Hg. it sounds like an impressive step to having a league-wide farm system (the lakers have had their own d-league team for a couple of seasons now). the only thing i would add is that, at least at this point, we won't be allowed to have additional players on the roster, and i don't actually think we could send our "inactive" players down there. that being said, it could provide a great opportunity for a guy on the active roster who would otherwise be sitting at the end of our bench.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 5/31/2012 2:29 PM
  10. Regardless of the number guards drafted recently, our top priorities are PG and Center. Lets face it we some bad karma when it comes to drafting Centers with high picks. Lilliard seems to have potential and seems like he would be available at 6 and Machado available at 11. Marshall is tempting but he sounds like Andre Miller 2.0 and I don't want to fear the 24 second clock for 2 more years.

    by t bone on 5/31/2012 3:26 PM
  11. Good to see Matthews representing Portland. He may not be our best basketball player but his work ethic is what we should be about.
    The Spurs. WOW. Team ball. Old school. That is playing " the right way".
    One day soon the Blazers will have a GM, a coach and new faces on the team. We can then forget the nightmare that was the 2011-12 season and focus on winning ball games.
    GO BLAZERS!!

    by Divotking on 5/31/2012 3:41 PM
  12. @Hg: Good information about the farm team. I guess what I was trying to say is that I don't see how they're going to be used any different than they were before as the Blazers were really good about sending young players to go there to develop and get playing time instead of having them sit on the bench and not get experience. Basically some details have changed, but the usage will probably be the same as before.

    @tbone: Not all my gut feelings are right, but for some reason that Damian Lillard kid gives me a good feeling as I think we could have another Russell Westbrook type player with some raw Tony Parker type skills as well from the limited footage I've seen from him. The Blazers really need some steady back court scoring really badly and I think this kid could do the trick. And I hope that people aren't turned off from Weber St since they're a small school. Remember, Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey were from small schools as well. I think it's possible that with the right talent, Lillard's assist numbers would be better than they were because of the conference/team he was in.

    Which brings me to something I know it a long shot. If we draft Lillard at 6, then by some miracle we got a 2 year contract from Steve Nash, imagine the influence he could have on that kid. Say what you want about Nash's age, but he still can really impact a team and is still in great shape as he reminds me of John Stockton in that regard and will be able to play at a high level for another 2-3 years. Oh, and Nash was from a small school too. ;) Plus, a guy like Nash would really make Aldridge look AWESOME!!!

    by Shem on 5/31/2012 9:53 PM
  13. IMHO no one on the Blazer team should be untouchable in trades. LA is basically Chris Bosh and what has he led his teams to. Dominant guards and bigs that can screen and pass are what dominate this league now. Look at the the four teams left. The only bigs that really matter are Garnett and Duncan on those teams.

    In the future we need to focus on guys that play like Wade, Westbrook, Rondo, Parker, and Ginobilli. Big men have to have someone feed them the ball to be effective and that can be taken away. If you push a big out on the floor and he can't handle the ball, he will turn it over. If you double and he can't pass, he will turn it over. I have seen this happen over and over again with a too weak Lamarcus Aldridge.

    If the Blazers want to get better then they will need fearless guards to get them there. Guys who will take it to the rack, get knocked down and do it again undeterred a whole game. Big guys will need to play tough D , rebound, screen, and pass in that order.

    I say draft young talented guards with 6 and 11 and use the second round picks and anyone we have to get us tough physical bigs like Milsap, Ibaka, or Jefferson. You can have all the 6'11" jump shooters that fade away from contact they will be early outs in the playoffs.

    I like O'Quinn from Norfolk State as a 2nd round sleeper and Jared Cunningham for OSU could be a great get.

    by basketmatt on 6/2/2012 9:57 AM
  14. @basketmatt: LaMarcus is nothing close to Bosh. Bosh is considered by many to be one of the softest pf's in the league. the real issue is that we don't have a center in there with enough of a post game to compliment LaMarcus. J.J. comes the closest from what we saw of the duo on the court together. Oden was supposed to be that player, but we all know the story there. the answer to that is not going to be found in the second round. we could find such a player with one of the lottery picks, or through trades. i don't see a lot of free agents out there who fit the bill.

    we also need to shy away from the idea of finding the pgotf in the draft. this is a player who basically is going to be handed the keys to the franchise -- hopefully for many years to come. we should look for a pg in free agency, or perhaps a trade. i'd say this years crop of free agent pg's is so strong that we should be able to find our guy there.

    i definitely see a rare opportunity to add post players through the lottery picks; the draft is that deep. there are a couple interesting pg prospects in the draft, but they both have some major deficiencies (i.e. Marshall's inability to create his own shot won't keep nba defenses honest; Lillard is more of a combo guard than a pure point which is what, imo, we need to be looking for in free agency).

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 6/2/2012 10:38 AM
  15. Hey Miss Kassandra: Guess what I totally agree with you.
    I think if we keep our picks, it should be used for solid role players to back up what we have or assets for trades later. Both Marshall and Lillard are young and need time to see if they can develop as NBA players which we could draft, but not as the starting PGofTF for now.
    I also like your idea of getting A center in the Draft or trade. I think Freeland may come over and although he has no NBA experience, he is a proven veteran player. The bigs in the draft will need some time to develop slowly also, but if we don't keep Joel, then we will need one to step in.

    I thank you for taking the time to post as I know finals are fast approaching. I know you don't worry about those trifle things.

    by Hg on 6/2/2012 11:39 AM
  16. Kassandra I agree about not finding the pgotf in the draft. I personally like Dragic and you don't need to give anything up to get him. I am looking more at guards and small forwards that can be swing type dynamic players. Maybe a Lamb or a Beal. You can never have too many talented multi-position players.

    LA is not a great inside player, he is a great shooter. He doesn't shut down the middle and he is a strong rebounder only occasionally. He is a great 2nd option, but not a star you can ride. I do like what Hickson showed at the end of the year, but I never trust what I see at the end of a contract year.

    Maybe Zeller or Henson can become a stud out of N. Carolina. You maybe even can trade down and get the center from Syracuse. I just wouldn't want to use 6 or 11 on their possibly reaching their peak talent.

    Hg my only problem with bigs in the draft is they can take so long to develop and a lot of times they just never do. Gun to my head I would take Zeller at 11 if I had to take a big. He has some skill and you know he will work his tail off like Joel.

    by basketmatt on 6/2/2012 7:03 PM
  17. @basketmatt:
    There are so many options to think about and so many FA that could help us, that I am not sure which way I would go. I am thinking that if we brought over Joe Freeland and draft an upcoming center, we can train the draftee in the Idaho Stampede, and use LMA, Freeland and maybe Joel while one was training. The reason it takes so long, almost all new centers can't stay out of foul trouble, in fact the way the guards are treated it is hard to keep any big out of foul trouble.
    As I said, I am not sure how I would go and who I would pick.

    by Hg on 6/2/2012 9:31 PM
  18. HG you are right, I would not want to be the GM as there are so many mistakes that could be made. I would like to see Freeland come over this year also. The Blazers have tucked away a lot of foreign players that have never played a minute for them. I bet they would like a do over on those. Your right on about the guards getting big guys in foul trouble. Remember when guards drove in and Rick Mahorn or Charles Oakley would take their heads off. They were a lot less likely to come back for seconds. I really like the idea of using the Stampede to make guys better, to often they sit on the bench and get no game exposure. It would be even better if they stayed in College a few years and got better there.

    by basketmatt on 6/3/2012 12:26 PM
  19. FINALLY A GM. Now a coach.

    by Divotking on 6/4/2012 4:47 PM
  20. @basketmatt line up LaMarcus against the pf's in the league and you'll find his inside game probably ranks in the top quarter of them. in that same lineup, you'll find his defense is at least in the top half. his numbers support both. true, i wouldn't mind to see his rebounding numbers be more consistent, but he still has time to accomplish that. this will probably sound biased, but he's probably the best all-around pf in the nba.

    i understand what you're saying about him not being a true number one option. however, i disagree. the problem is that without a true number two option, it's really impossible to tell whether LaMarcus can be number one, or whether he is better served as number two. hopefully, that becomes rectified over the summer.

    as far as looking for multi-positional players, that's fine. on the other hand, you need to fill some needs rather than draft guys who either don't contribute or spend the duration of their rookie contracts/make their living in the d-league. we need to draft smart. the hope now is that our new GM can make those intelligent moves.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 6/4/2012 8:00 PM
  21. @Kassandra:
    Last year much of the time LaMarcus was the only consistent scorer we had. I am hoping with a good PG we can get more production out of our whole team. Getting passes to players where they can do the most good is essential in the fast reacting NBA.

    by Hg on 6/4/2012 9:49 PM
  22. Kassandra I will agree with that. With some help LA might just be a plausible #1 scorer. My latest idea is to sign Aaron Brooks as our PG for the next 3-4 years. He is quick can penetrate and dish and he can hurt you scoring. Then use #6 to get the best swing man still available. With 11 I still say go with a big like Zeller. In the second round I would grab Quincy Acy, he reminds me of a more athletic Reggie Evans. With the last pick Jared Cunningham, Ezeli, or O'Quinn would make be happy.

    by basketmatt on 6/9/2012 9:03 AM
  23. Kassandra I will agree with that. With some help LA might just be a plausible #1 scorer. My latest idea is to sign Aaron Brooks as our PG for the next 3-4 years. He is quick can penetrate and dish and he can hurt you scoring. Then use #6 to get the best swing man still available. With 11 I still say go with a big like Zeller. In the second round I would grab Quincy Acy, he reminds me of a more athletic Reggie Evans. With the last pick Jared Cunningham, Ezeli, or O'Quinn would make be happy.

    by basketmatt on 6/9/2012 9:03 AM
  24. So nice I said it twice!

    by basketmatt on 6/9/2012 9:05 AM
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