While many websites have reported the rumor of the Blazers having discussions about trading picks #6 and #11 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for picks #4 and #24, all citations seem to point back to the twitter account of Hoopsworld writer, Alex Kennedy
. Even if this particular rumor is false, or the discussions are dead, it’s worthwhile analyzing it to get idea of what the Blazers would get, and give up, if they were to move up in the draft.
1. Who the Blazers would not be targeting
|Many mock drafts have the Blazers taking 6’11” forward-center Andre Drummond from U Conn and 6’3” point guard Damian Lillard from Weber St. with their lottery picks. Though Drummond and Lillard play positions the Blazers currently need filled, the #4 overall pick would be too early to take either. While at least one legitimate mock draft has Drummond going at #2 (at least as of this writing), it would be safe to say a lot of people would be shocked if he went that high. The other player the Blazers would likely not be targeting is 6’9” power forward Thomas Robinson from Kansas. Though Robinson has tremendous upside according to scouts, he plays a position that is currently occupied by All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge.
2. Who the Blazers might be targeting
|After the New Orleans Hornets draft consensus overall #1 pick, 6'10" power forward Anthony Davis from Kentucky, the next four players go in various orders according to most mock drafts: Robinson, 6’7” small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Kentucky, 6’8” small forward Harrison Barnes from North Carolina, and 6’4” shooting guard Bradley Beal from Florida. Although the inept management decisions of Charlotte Bobcats' owner Michael Jordan will always be a wild card, it's probable that Kidd-Gilchrist will be selected at pick #2 or #3. This would leave Barnes or Beal as a likely selection for the Blazers at #4. I think both players can be starters on good NBA teams, and would not be disappointed with either. But if I was forced to pick one, I would take Barnes.
3. So should the Blazers consider a deal such as this?
|If the Blazers second first-round selection was in the mid 20's and not #11, they would be losing out players such as 7'1" Meyers Leonard from Illinois and 7'0" center Tyler Zeller from North Carolina who are slotted in the range. Draft analysts that I have read suggest these players, and others in this range, have a ceiling of being a starter or a solid contributor off the bench, with their "floor" being less than a role player. At #24 many mock drafts have players such as 6'2" point guard Marquis Teague from Kentucky and 7'0" center Fab Melo from Syracuse. Since these players would be drafted in the first round, they would likely make the 2012-2013 roster, but their future would be uncertain. They could develop into contributors or they could have decent careers in the D-League.
So would the Blazers consider such a deal?
According to Casey Holdahl's transcript, new Blazers' General Manager Neil Olshey said this about his drafting strategy this year: "It's not about filling needs." This doesn't necessarily mean the team is looking to move up in the draft, but it may cause people to re-think mock draft favorites Drummond and Lillard who fill needs, but may not be the most talented player on the board when the Blazers pick.
There is also this quote from Olshey from Holdahl via 1080 the Fan: "I'll tell you a golden rule in the draft, which is if you pick 6 and 11, you wish you had 5 and 10. If you have 5 and 10, you wish you had 4 and 9. But at the end of the day, usually things play out and, you know the old poker saying, don't judge people by your standards. So just because you're in love with someone you think is going to go ahead of you doesn't mean someone likes somebody else.
So should they consider such a deal?
If I was Olshey and the Cavs came to me with this trade offer would I do it? Yes. Barnes and Beal have higher ceilings and less question marks than Lillard, who played his entire career in the Big Sky Conference and sat out a year due to injury, and Drummond who many scouts and draft analysts say is very raw, similar to a poor man's Andrew Byum (i.e. Bynum when he came into the league, not 2010-2012 Bynum).
At this stage in the re-tooling plan, I think the best strategy is to acquire one sure-fire 'A' or 'B' player as opposed to two players who might have ceilings that high.
(Photo attribution: Lillard - draftexpress.com, Barnes - bleachereport.com, Meyers - chicagotribune.com)