There are several players in this draft who should be able to contribute quality minutes the moment they set foot on the floor for whatever team drafts them. Players like Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger have very refined games and know their skills. They do things that will translate to the next level already. But there is a cap on their ability to improve (so we think.) High floor, low ceiling players are not ever going to disappoint you. They are relatively known quantities who you will appreciate having on your team, but they will never shock and awe you or become a game-changer. John Henson might have a 10 year NBA career as a 20 minute big man off the bench, but his perceived ceiling is a quality starter who will never even reach the cusp of an All-Star or All-NBA team. He, in all likelihood, will not bust or phase out of the league Hasheem Thabeet style, but what are you really getting? You're getting a dime a dozen player, a backup 4/5 who can be replicated by a handful of scrap heap veterans every year.
The NBA is owned by superstars. It is Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard that will carry your team to the promised land. Shane Battier and Lou Williams are an accessory to a championship team, not a driving force. A team constructed in the mold of the Denver Nuggets, who are loaded with quality players but are lacking a star, can make the playoffs year in and out. But they will forever be mired in mediocrity, not good enough to win and not bad enough to strike gold in the lottery. This is how I see the Portland Trailblazers as currently constructed. A reload, rather than rebuild, will grant us a playoff birth. Dragic/Matthews/Batum/Aldridge/Zeller, for example, would be a lower-seeded playoff team with upset potential. However, I would be dollars to donuts that when matched against the West's elite, that group would be lucky to steal even one game at home.
So we find ourselves at a crossroads. No fan wants their team to suck. After the heartbreak of Greg Oden and the lottery misses with Bayless, Telfair, and Webster we are more cautious with the draft. Potential is a our that falls deaf on our ears. It's connotation is "bust". We want results, we want production, and we want quality. But quality does not win in the NBA.
I recently read in another fanpost "2-deep vs Too Deep". Too Deep will never win. Point to the 2004 Pistons and I'll say that they captured lightning in a bottle with 5 fringe all-stars in the starting lineup against a loaded Laker team that was falling apart at the seams. They are much more talented than people give them credit for. If the Blazers could assemble a team built around a dynamic offensive 4, a DPOY 5, do-it-all 3, sharpshooter 2, and ice-cold 1, all of whom are all-star caliber, they would. It's not that easy. The easiest way to win in the NBA is to have superstars. The easiest way to obtain a superstar is to draft one. The Blazers have the chance to draft player with enormous upside, or they can go with a safe pick. I say pick the Austin Rivers, Andre Drummond, or Perry Jones. Don't settle for Kendall Marshall. Don't settle for Myers Leonard. Boom or bust. Go big or go home. The worst thing that can happen is we have another shot to hit a home run (or strike out) next year.
Never settle for decent.
What should the Blazers draft strategy be?
High Risk, High Reward (143 votes)
Safe, Assured Quality (30 votes)
173 total votes