Some people have expressed dissatisfaction with the Blazers not having a direction or plan with this years draft. Here's what I think the plan is, how tonight fit in and why I think it was a success.
1) Use draft day to find a long term solution at PG and to improve our 3pt shooting
2) Use the FA to improve our frontcourt depth and rebounding woes
3) Maintain enough talent and flexibility to be able to pursue elite talent if/when it becomes available
Explanation in more depth below
1) I love Miller (where is his appreciation thread btw?), but the sad reality is that, without major changes, any improvement in 3pt shooting had to be done at the starting PG spot. This is because our 2 and 3 rotations are set and backup PG and PF don't play enough minutes to make a sizable difference, especially in the 4th quarter. If you're like me and feel like better outside shooting is an absolute must, then you have to move Andre. The Blazers aren't competing for a championship in the next year or two, so you should also try and get somebody young.
Goal: Get a young PG with an outside shot while keeping as much of the PG skills that Andre possessed without giving up enough assets to jeopardize part 3 of the plan. Hopefully improve defensively as well.
Status: Check. I can't think of anyone else that fills this goal better than Felton.
Why the Nolan Smith Pick makes some sense
After Buchanan and the gang finalized the Felton trade this was our depth chart and we had one first round pick:
Felton / ??? / AJ
We$ / Roy / EWill
G3 / Batum / Babbitt
LA / ??? / CJ
Oden / Camby / ???
The questions I would ask are: Which question mark would I rather fill with a rookie? and What opportunities are there in the free agency to fill those question marks? To question one, with Oden and Camby's history I think its safe to say you don't want a rookie at third string center. I think you could make a compelling case for either of the other two question marks. On to question two.
Available FA PGs: Ford, Arroyo, Telfair, Williams, Watson, Barea
Available FA PFs: Landry, Hayes, Martin, Davis, Turiaf, Murphy, Humpheries, Evans, McRoberts
I think its safe to say that there's more talent available at the PF position. Also, since LA can play center, you can potentially get a starter quality, Landry type player to play ~30min/g in a three man frontcourt rotation with our starting center (hopefully Oden). I think you can add more talent if you have Landry for 30min/g than, say, Faried and Kwame Brown for 15 min each. That possibility is enticing.
So you decide to fill the backup PF via FA and draft the best PG prospect with your number one, even if it is a reach. This decision is most certainly debatable but I think its unfair to say it lacks direction at this point in time.
2) Last question mark:
Available FA Cs: Gasol, Chandler, Pryzbilla, Dalembert, Hawes, Fesenko, Foster, Mohammed, Brown
In sum: so many possibilities we have a very good chance of getting two proven frontcourt guys better than Faried. (Who we end up targeting is a very interesting question and I'd be curious to here peoples' thoughts on this)
Why the new CBA won't hamper our ability to get FAs
Quite simply, these players have to go somewhere and most teams are already over the cap. This means most of these guys will be signed with exceptions (Stern already agreed to the MLE) and I think Portland is an attractive place to come play.
3) This is the toughest to swallow for me cause tonight was in many ways lateral and in no ways lessened our dependence on Roy and Oden. But I don't believe that opportunity existed tonight (the best player moved was Stephen Jackson). So the only thing you can do is make the best move available while keeping enough assets to be ready in the future.
Camby's contract, Batum, a starter at any position (besides PF) and future draft picks for an elite player at the same position is a pretty good offer and means we have a shot at almost any elite player that becomes available.
Conclusion: While its possible that tonight was a mistake its also possible this is the first step in a very productive and directional off season. We won't be able to truly judge until the end. Until then, I think the correct reaction is to be excited for Raymond Felton, to pay respect to Dre, to withhold judgement on the Smith v. Faried question and to consider tonight a tentative success. And to continue hoping for Roy and Oden to get healthy or an elite player to become available (please please pleeeeaaaassse!!!!!).