Monday Links: An Early Mock Draft From Chad Ford, Lillard Q&A's And Predictions
-- The hype for the 2014 NBA Draft is so pervasive that ESPN.com's Chad Ford has already put together a mock draft despite the fact that those picks will be made almost a year from now. Ford uses the ESPN Summer Forecast projections
to set the order and subsequently has the Trail Blazers selecting Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein
with the 12th pick.
Trail Blazers' forecasted record: 38-44** | 0.7 percent to win lottery)
Analysis: The Blazers actually are trying to make the playoffs in a very crowded Western Conference. But if they don't make the playoffs, the draft is the upside. Cauley-Stein hasn't even begun to realize his potential. He was very raw at Kentucky last year, but when he got it going, everyone could easily see great things to come. The Blazers don't really need another center, but Cauley-Stein's versatility might allow him to backup LaMarcus Aldridge.
makes sure to note at the end of the piece that Portland's first-round pick will go to Charlotte if the Trail Blazers end up picking between 13 and 30.
-- Damian Lillard talks to CBS Sports
about a range of topics, including how he sets expectations.
Q: You've pretty much never had what people would consider "reasonable" or "moderate" expectations for yourself. You've come out and talked about wanting to be a All-Star, be one of the best players in the league. Is that something that comes from inside you, or have there been things that have pushed you?
A: I think it's always been internal. I always had high expectations for myself. If I go to a baseball field, if I'm playing with Major League Baseball players, I expect to play well. It comes from my family, too. They always made me believe it. Anytime I was playing basketball or football, they were telling me I belong out there. I started to take that attitude out there. Why not be an All-Star? I believe it can happen. As long as I believe it, it doesn't matter what anyone else says.
-- ESPN and Disney held an event in Bristol, Conn. to announce a partnership with the Special Olympics
and Lillard was there to participate in various sporting events with Special Olympics athletes as part of the celebration. He talked with The Source about his relationship with Special Olympics
How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?
I was asked to be an ambassador and I was all for it. I had experience with it in college. I really enjoyed myself being a part of it. I realized how much of an impact I had on them and just how much they have the same abilities that we have. When they told me I was excited about, I’m happy to be apart of it.
Why do you think you were chosen to be an ambassador for the Special Olympics?
It probably has something to do with who I am, but I think it also has a lot to do with my experience with it. I did the game at All-Star weekend and I had a lot of fun. I think that has as much to do with it than anything.
-- Dave Deckard at Blazersedge posted his 2013-14 win/loss prediction
, which seems reasonable enough.
The Blazers won 33 games last year. If things go wrong I'd put them in the 37-38 range this year. If things go right I'm guessing 41-42. So I'm going with a final prediction of 38-40 wins. That's as narrow as I get.
Plenty of people are going to forecast that win total as low, thinking the improvements over the summer will boost the team into the mid-40's. 45 wins would mean a 12-game increase over last season. 47 or 48 would be 14-15. That's a huge ask given the level of this summer's acquisitions.
I'm going to hold off on any predictions until at least midway through training camp. It's not likely to improve the accuracy of my guess, but I figure it can't hurt.
-- Former Trailblazers.com intern Mike Acker, writing for Sheridan Hoops, picks five things to watch for from the Trail Blazers this season
2. An actual starting center. Robin Lopez is not an outstanding scoring center. He’s not even an outstanding center. What he is, though, is a center: an actual NBA-caliber starting center. He plays defense, he rebounds, he plays defense and he rebounds.
The Blazers will get plenty of scoring from Lillard, Aldridge and Batum. What they needed last season – what killed them in every single one of their 82 games – was somebody who could stop opponents from getting at-will layups. J.J. Hickson couldn’t do it; the combination of Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland couldn’t do it. Lopez will do it. Blazer fans should know this because he did it to Portland last season with New Orleans.
And defense is just part of the package. Lopez is a rebounder. Portland hasn’t had a real rebounder in at least two seasons. The Blazers won’t be the worst paint-defense team in the league this season; they won’t give up a ridiculous number of offensive rebounds, either. Blazer fans will have Lopez to thank for that.
-- This past weekend, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Eddie Doucette
was awarded the Curt Gowdy Award for Electronic Media by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. It's the same award that Bill Schonely was awarded last year.
You can watch Doucette's acceptance speech below.
-- The Trail Blazers and Banfield Pet Hospitals have teamed up over the last few seasons to renovate dogs parks in the Portland area, with the most recent park, Sacajawea in Northeast Portland, getting an upgrade this weekend
A group of about 30 volunteers from the Blazers, Banfield, and the community planted wildflower and grass seeds and spread new “paw-friendly” cedar chips at Sacajawea Park.
They also added water spigots, a new water drainage system and a picnic table to the 4.9-acre off-leash park.
The renovations are part of a three-year-old partnership between Banfield and the Trail Blazers.
Fans of the basketball team voted for one of three Portland Parks & Recreation dog parks to get a park makeover. Sacajawea Park was the clear winner, taking 71 percent of the 11,105 votes.