After the conclusion of the draft lottery, the two players linked to the Trail Blazers at the sixth pick were Connnecticut center, Andre Drummond and Weber State point guard, Damian Lillard. But another name has started to creep into the mix: Dion Waiters.
The Big East's Sixth Man of the Year reportedly had a promise the day before the Chicago draft combine and shortly after shut down all interviews and workouts. Rumors swirled that either Portland, Phoenix, or Toronto had made the commitment to take the 6-4, 200 lb. shooting guard, but to date, no one has been able to crack the case. Although the team who supposedly made the promise still hasn't been revealed, there has been one franchise associated with Waiters more recently and frequently over the past week than others: The Portland Trail Blazers.
It started two weeks ago when Draft Express' Jonathan Givony
said it was Waiters who had caught the eye of GM Neil Olshey.
“The Trail Blazers had a disappointing season, partially because of injuries and lackluster performance from their backcourt. Offseason acquisitions Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford both struggled to live up to expectations, while Wesley Matthews regressed after a promising sophomore season. Both of the top point guard prospects, Lillard and Kendall Marshall, will get extended looks here, but Waiters who has caught the eye of Olshey. Many teams around the league are speculating that it's Portland who actually gave Waiters a guarantee he'll be selected if he drops to No. 11, causing him to cancel his remaining workouts.”
Five days later on the 19th of June, ESPN's Chad Ford had the Trail Blazers selecting Drummond but also piggybacked on the Waiters-to-Portland bandwagon
. Only Ford thought it would be at No. 6 where Waiters would be in play in contrast to Givony who said it would be at pick No. 11.
“It may come down to a three-way choice (assuming the top five are off the board) between Drummond, Damian Lillard and Dion Waiters. I hear the Blazers like all three.”
Sticking true to his guns, Ford still believes that Waiters could be unexpected pick at No. 6
when he released the latest version of his mock draft today.
The Blazers need a point guard and a big man. They'll have to make a very tough choice here between Lillard and Andre Drummond. Lillard is a steady, athletic guard who can shoot the lights out and get to the rim. Drummond is a super athletic big man who can block shots. While teams usually opt for size, the fact that Drummond is two to three years away might tip the scale toward Lillard. The Blazers, remember, aren't rebuilding, they're retooling. Dion Waiters is the sleeper pick here.
The third esteemed member of the media with the same sentiments towards Waiters going early on in the draft to Portland came from NBA.com's David Aldridge
during his weekly Morning Tip roundup.
Syracuse's Dion Waiters is coming on like a freight train, with sources insistent that he'll be gone somewhere between No. 6 (Portland) and No. 8 (Toronto) after earlier rumors had Phoenix making a promise to take Waiters at 13...At six, the Blazers have needs across the board. Lillard would make an awful lot of sense here if he's not taken by Sacramento, but the Blazers, who still need to replace the retired Brandon Roy, might not be able to pass on Waiters.
So...Waiters at No. 6 is the flavor of the week. Let's add him along with Drummond and Lillard and it's a three-player race for the sixth pick and call it a day, right? Not so fast says Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler who threw another
player's hat into the ring for the sixth pick.
Duke’s Austin Rivers seems to be on the players on a meteoric rise, possibly as high as #6 to Portland. Apparently new Blazers’ GM Neil Olshey believes Rivers could be a real star level guy in the NBA and the Blazers have been debating the merits of taking him with the #6 and drafting the best available center at #11. The problem is the Blazers would be passing on UCONN big man Andre Drummond who most believe will be there at #6 and might be too much of an upside talent to pass on. If Paul Allen and the and the Blazers buy-in don’t be shocked to see Rivers go #6 because there is almost no chance he’ll be there at #11 as New Orleans is said to cover him with the #10.
It just wouldn't be the week leading up to the NBA Draft without rumors, smokescreens, promises and speculation. Hang on for the ride, Rip City! Until then, get acclimated with maybe your newest Trail Blazer with these detailed video scouting reports from Swish Scout.