Blazers' Unproven Young Players: Who Excites You Most?

While it isn't quite the same as a few years ago, when we had a myriad of young talent, and the youngest team in the league, we do have some potentially good pieces. For better-or-worse, they should all get the opportunity to prove themselves this season.

Luke Babbitt

Luke looked lost on the court at times (ok, most of the time), after high expectations going in to the draft. While most probably don't have high hopes, and he has become somewhat of a joke here, one year isn't quite enough to go on.

After being the man for his college career, it was a difficult adjustment to play a completely different role in the NBA. With a year under his belt and more time to adjust, maybe he can provide the shooting and bench scoring that we need from him.

Babbitt is the third small forward, but if he can earn it, playing time should be there with different lineups.

Elliot Williams

A high-flying athlete misses his rookie season from a knee injury, in another blow to his seemingly cursed franchise. Are we talking about Blake Griffin or Elliot Williams? Maybe E-Will will win the Rookie of the Year and make the All-Star team.

Well probably not, but in all seriousness, I am anxious to see what he can bring. He has some high upside, especially with his athleticism. He'll have to continue to work on his ball-handling and shooting, but reports have been positive so far.

With a Brandon Roy-sized hole at the shooting guard position, now is the time for Elliot to show what he can do.

Armon Johnson

Remember this? The first game of last year, when Armon played some nice spot minutes for us, looked great on defense and solid on offense? He looked pretty promising.

Unfortunately, turnovers and bad plays cut his time on the court last year. Yet, he displays great athleticism and a Rajon Rondo like defense on point guards. Most importantly, he has the confidence and the work-ethic to become a better player.

He is going to have to improve his offensive game though, and add several dimensions. Armon is great at speed scoring in the end of quarters and games (anyone remember the three against OKC that the national announcer though tied the game? Lol). But besides that, he doesn't really have a consistent offensive skill. He will need to work on his jump shot and ball-control.

He definitely could be at least a backup point guard who changes the game, maybe even a starting point guard someday.

Chris Johnson

At 26, CJ is pushing the limits of young. Still, he did show some flashes and room to improve his game.

He won't ever be a starting quality center unless he makes some big improvements, but it is easier to see him as a rim-protecting backup for 15-20 minutes per-game. He will have difficulty with some of the bigger centers, but there are maybe half-a-dozen I would really worry about.

He reminds me a little bit of a poor-man's Javale McGee with his high-flying dunks and blocks. If he was a few years younger, his upside would excite me a little more. Still, he could be a contributor. Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas aren't bad dudes to learn from.

Nolan Smith

Initially, the pick of Smith was greeted with disappointment by many. I think that it will pan out though.

Smith doesn't have through the roof upside, but his solid play and growth every year at Duke bode well for him becoming a contributor. Not that they mean much, but he played very well in pro-am games this summer/fall. He also got a good review from Coach Nate.

His lack of jaw-dropping athleticism may limit his upside, but he should be able to fill a backup role very well. He should get a lot of opportunities this year. With his NBA readiness and playing time opportunities, I expect him to be one of the top impact rookies this year.

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