All the conversation surrounding the draft has been about who we as fans would like to see picked, or who's the BPA (best player available), or what other teams are going to do.
But ignoring the possibility that we trade a draft pick (or both), who do you think is #1 on the Blazers' Front Office Big Board of draft prospects (assuming Anthony Davis is off the board and thus not even contemplated) ?
After looking at the many different players, I've come up with a couple people who I think are being scrutinized the heaviest by our Front Office. Now, obviously, you can look at fit, talent, BPA, and whatnot, and therefore everyone will have a different opinion, but this assumes we're trying to gain the greatest assets as well as being able to put together a team that can take the court from day 1.
The Blazers' Big Board:
- Damian Lillard-- lol, I know this is going to get me chastised quite a bit, but he's a top 5 talent in the draft, and in my opinion he's top 3. He may not be the very best guy after Anthony Davis, but boy can this kid play. He's a lights-out shooter with fantastic handles; he's 6'3" in shoes, weighing 190lbs with a 6'8" reach and a 40" max vertical; he's quick, can dribble and finish with either the left or right hand too. He's also intelligent, mature, and seems like a natural floor leader. He scored 24.5 points per game last season; finished second overall in PER with a 33.8 (Anthony Davis led the NCAA with a PER of 35.1); and finished near the top in almost every category on the recent By the Numbers 2012 Guard Crop posting. He could possibly be a Russell Westbrook/ Derrick Rose type player, and yet he's got the shooter's stroke of a guy like Steph Curry. Recently, people have argued that his low shot release will hurt him in the NBA, but IMO it allows him to get the ball off quicker. Seriously, watch this kid's interview in the fanshots.
- Thomas Robinson-- this kid is just a beast, pure and simple. He's built like a Greek god at 6'9", 244lbs, and he can rebound. Boy, can he rebound. His rebounding rate was 30% last year, and his offensive rebounding rate dropped from 18% (!) to 11% after he took on the bulk of the scoring duties last year, putting up almost 18 points a game. He's considered the most solid prospect after Davis, as rebounding is the one attribute that reasonably translates from college to the pros. He's a hard worker, who bodies up and kills you with athleticism, strength, and intelligence around the basket.
- Bradley Beal-- he's a shooter, pure and simple. Though he had lackluster efficiency stats last year (44% FG%, 33% 3pt%, a little over 50% eFG%) he still has one of the best shooting strokes in college ball, and hopefully that can translate that to the pros. He's already capable of shooting the NBA 3-pointer, as he shot 5 threes a game in college, but he's not a guarantee to be successful at the next level. But for my money, he's the best wing in the draft. If you had to replace Wesley Matthews, this could be the kid to do it, as he's barely an inch shorter but has the same wingspan, 39" hops, and plenty of speed.
- Andre Drummond-- this guy reeks of potential, potential, potential. He was a decent baller in college, putting up 10 points a game on 53% shooting, almost 8 rebounds a game, with 2.7 blocks a game. He'll be a defensive presence from day 1, as his 6'11" (in shoes), 270lb frame, with a 7'6" wingspan and 9'1" standing reach is just sick for a human being (sick being amazing). Did I mention he has a 7.5% body fat? Second lowest ever recorded in the combine for a guy of his weight. He's got a couple pitfalls which are semi-curable, such as FT shooting and his offense around the hoop, but he's got athletic intangibles that no one else in the draft can match. Again, he's all potential, as he could very well be a Andrew Bynum/ Tyson Chandler type guy, or just a mediocre Emeka Okafor type, or he could be the next Kwame Brown.
- Harrison Barnes-- he's instant offense. He'll take shots with no qualms, and he'll make plenty of them. He's long, really long with a 6'11" wingspan, but he's not uber-efficient, shooting 44% overall and 35% from the 3pt-line. He averaged 14 FG attempts per game last year in 29 minutes, basically one every two minutes. He struggled without a good point guard (Kendall Marshall), and he doesn't create all that well, though he's got a mean pull-up jumper. Not really a set-his-feet type guy, he needs the ball in his hands to produce, that is, when he is producing, as he's liable to go on good and bad stretches at any time. He's young at 20 years old, but he's also redundant with a guy like Nicolas Batum on the team, and I doubt either could slide to the SG position.
- Michael Kidd-Gilcrest-- my least favorite guy in the top-6. As I've said before, he's boring. He's a Gerald Wallace-lite, with an inability to shoot the jumpshot, and he's not a slasher either-- which is G. Wall's bread-and-butter. However, he's a lockdown defender at the small forward position-- again, a position we should be alright at since we've got Batum. Basically, he's Batum without any offensive skills. He's tall (6'7"), long (6'11" wingspan), and extremely quick. But like I've said already, he is raw offensively, and is going to take a while to come around on that aspect (roughly half the NBA game).
- Meyers Leonard-- at 7'1", 250lbs, with a 7'3" wingspan, Meyers is one of the biggest, if not the biggest guy in the draft. He's both capable offensively and defensively, as he shot 58% from the field, with 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and almost 2 blocks a game. He also shoots well from the line, shooting 73% (much better than the 20-something % Drummond shot from the line). However, Leonard is a work-in-progress. He has work to do on his footwork, as well as his positioning at times, but man, he's a top athletic specimen in a draft filled with extremely athletic guys. At 20 years old, with a 9'0" standing reach and 32" hops, this guy could anchor the middle for the foreseeable future. He's not as NBA-ready as a guy like Zeller, but he's got twice the ceiling, and should make huge strides in his first couple years. He's probably not an immediate starter, but he's definitely got starter-material written all over him.
- Dion Waiters-- at 6'4", he's undersized, but he packs 220lbs in that small SG frame. He drives the ball like no one's business, but he's a mediocre shooter, though he did hit 36% of his 3s last season. In 24 minutes a game, he averaged 12.6 points and only 2.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. Again, he's undersized. He's really a combo guard, and I'm not sure he could guard either PGs or SGs at the next level. But he'll put his head down and take it to the hoop whenever he wants/can.
- Perry Jones III-- this guy is looooong. 6'11", with a 7'2" wingspan, the kid has some nice skills at the PF position. Unfortunately, he's skinny at 230, he doesn't shoot all that well (30% from 3, 50% overall), and his defense is suspect for his length-- in 30 mins a game, he only averaged 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks a game. He's a finisher around the basket, has 3-pt range, and is considered a Jack-of-all-Trades, master of none. He lacks polish and is just an average rebounder and shot-blocker for a guy with his size and athleticism. He's got great potential, and that's what teams will be banking on.
So tell me, does your Blazers' Big Board look like mine? Do you think the Blazers would laugh if they saw this?
Include your comments, suggestions, and criticisms below, though I can't promise I'll take them seriously ;)