It was a busy night in Rip City as the Trail Blazers front office staff strategized over draft picks and wheeled and dealed trades. After the dust settled Portland ended the exciting evening with guards Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith and Jon Diebler.
Draft day kicked off like many others with trade rumors beginning to heat up. Names like Andre Miller, Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton were included in most of the talks but nothing was confirmed as the 2011 NBA Draft kicked off at 4:30pm.
The Trail Blazers made their first selection with the 21st pick taking combo-guard Nolan Smith from Duke University. Smith—who filled the shoes of No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving following a foot injury—led the Blue Devils to their third consecutive ACC title while racking up a slough of accolades including ACC Player of the Year, First Team All-ACC and a place as a First Team All-American.
“Nolan is a young guard that I think is gonna be solid. He brings versatility to the line up,” Head Coach Nate McMillan said “I think that the guard, the core of guards that we have, is really solid with the addition. Nolan will give us versatility where he can play with a point guard and he can play the point himself.”
Thirty selections later Portland snagged Jon Diebler with the 51st pick. A lights-out shooter from three-point-land, Diebler led the nation in shooting the long ball during his senior season with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“One of the better catch and shoot guys in the draft, another high character guy, four year guy, who improved every year at Ohio State,” Interim General Manger Chad Buchanan said. “He had some phenomenal games shooting the ball this year for a very good Ohio State team”
The two rounds of the draft concluded without incident but there was more to come for the Trail Blazers. Just after 10pm, Buchanan confirmed the heavily speculated trade of Andre Miller to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Raymond Felton. Three teams were involved in the swap that also shipped Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks.
Here are the details of the trade:
- Rudy Fernandez and the rights to Petteri Koponen to Dallas for the rights to 26th pick Jordan Hamilton and 57th pick Tanguy Ngombo
- Andre Miller and the rights to Jordan Hamilton to Denver for Raymond Felton
Overall the activity of the Trail Blazers—which has become par for the course on draft night—resulted in a beefed-up back court and a younger point guard selection. Closing the events of the evening McMillan shared his satisfaction with the trades and picks as well as his gratitude and respect for Andre Miller.
“I thought we did a good job of improving our team tonight. We gave up a pro in Andre Miller, Andre has been great for us, but we add a guard that not only I feel will help us now, but a guard for the future in Raymond Felton,” McMillan said. “He’s a legit starting guard that is in his prime, I think he’s going to give us some different options than Andre. Andre was a guy that we could take advantage of posting up small guards, Raymond would be more of a guard that would be involved in pick and rolls and spread the floor with his ability to shoot the ball and attack.
“I really feel good about the moves that we made today. I think we have improved and as I said I felt like we addressed a need for not only now but for the future.”
With another draft in the books how do you feel about the selections and trades?