Who Should the Blazers Take Number One Overall?

Because it is a foregone conclusion the Blazers will win the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery and have the first overall pick in the draft, I thought I should throw together a quick poll. This poll is simple: who would you like the Blazers to draft number one overall, and why? Let's break the situation down.

Needs: Center, Wing (SG/SF) Depth, Backup PG, Backup PF. We all know the Blazers' biggest hole is at center. It's a gaping, Oden-sized hole (too-soon?). However, the Blazers could also use some depth in the backcourt, as well as a competent backup to Aldridge. Because the simple answer to the question "what do the Blazers need?" is EVERYTHING, we can basically just take best player available. So who's available?

The Candidates:

Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas: Out of everyone in this draft, he has the best chance to make multiple All-Star teams. He's the draft's best shooter, has beyond elite athleticism, an NBA-ready body and size prototypical to his position, guards well, is a beast in transition, and has the patented LeBron/Batum chase-down-from-behind-layup-block down. However, he's not a good enough ball handler to get his own shot, needs to work on going left, and his biggest weakness is his tendency to disappear in games. Part of that was probably due to his laid-back nature. Kansas was a team full of seniors this year, so as a freshman he probably deferred to them more than he should have given he was the best player on the team. He won't have to worry about being the number one guy on the Blazers with Lillard on the team (KU didn't have a true PG so McLemore was often asked to do more than he should have been), and can develop his ball handling and aggressiveness for a year or so. With Matthews on the team he doesn't even have to start right away, but given his upside it's likely he would.

Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky: This is the ultimate horror pick for Blazer fans. He's everything the Blazers need in a center with his rebounding, shot blocking and overall defense (except he's only 215-230 lbs, depending on which reports you believe), but he ALREADY has knee problems and he hasn't even gotten into the league yet. An ACL isn't the death-sentence it used to be, but the questions with Noel are going to be if his body can hold up to an NBA schedule and with him putting on the weight he is going to need to play center. Is the potential reward worth the risk? If there are complications from his ACL surgery, watch out.

Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown: Porter might be the most NBA-ready player in the draft. He can do everything (he's a good passer, shooter, ball handler and defender), doesn't need the offense to run through him to thrive, and can guard multiple positions. He plays the same position as Batum though (he would actually be a very good stretch 4 in small lineups), so this would fall under Dave's mantra of "JUST GET ASSETS". He needs to add strength, but he has the frame (6'8") to do it. He would be a phenomenal addition to the Blazers' forward rotation, and would allow Olshey to explore the option of trading Batum.

Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV: Bennett is a very complete player: he defends, scores inside and outside, rebounds like an animal, has insane athleticism, is long, and busts his hind quarters every second he's on the floor. The only questions around his game right now are if he is too small to play PF (he's only 6'8"), and he has very few low-post moves. He relies almost entirely on power and outworking everyone at this point, so he needs to add some low-post moves. He's not a great fit on the Blazers simply because he plays the same position as Aldridge, but again, JUST. GET. ASSETS. (Bennett recently announced he will be having rotator cuff surgery and could be out four months, so that could cause him to slide.)

Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana: Oladipo went from afterthought to consensus top-5 pick in the draft this year because he has the best motor and athleticism in college basketball. He's a great rebounder for a guard, is the best one-on-one defender in college, and can jump out of the building. His downsides are mostly things that can be fixed: he's a poor (but improving) shooter, is a bit turnover prone, and is slightly undersized for his position. Best-case scenario? Russell Westbrook. Worst-case scenario? Tony Allen. Because of his insane defense and athleticism he has a very high floor so there isn't a whole lot of risk involved. But he would cause the Blazers problems on offense by cramping their spacing because he isn't a good shooter. I'm just not totally sold on his game due to the fact he's a shooting guard that can't shoot.

Alex Len, C, Maryland: Unpopular opinion alter: Len is a better prospect and player than Noel. He's bigger, blocks shots, rebounds, and has a polished offensive game (nice scoring touch around the basket, good passer, and a solid perimeter game for a center) where Noel is very raw on that end. If he's going to be a true center in the league he desperately needs to add strength. He can also be somewhat passive, so he will have to show he can be aggressive and tough to NBA teams. However, Len announced he is undergoing surgery to stabilize a stress fracture in his ankle and will be out for all pre-draft workouts, so proving his toughness will be difficult. For a team that needs a center and doesn't get Noel, Len would be an excellent Plan B. (Also, due to this surgery, there is a tiny, tiny sliver of a chance Len falls to whichever team picks at 10 because it's definitely not going to be the Blazers.)

Trey Burke, PG, Michigan: Burke's biggest selling point is his ball-handling and play making ability. He's a great ball handler, has excellent court vision, is a good and creative passer, a good shooter, and has a high basketball IQ. However, he lacks elite athleticism, is small, and can be lax defensively at times. The ultimate downside to drafting Burke is maybe just be a smaller version of Damian Lillard, so I'm not sure how well he would fit on the roster. He would give the Blazers a very high-quality third guard and a second ball handler though.

So, who do you think the Blazers should take at number one? Personally my vote goes to McLemore. His ceiling is the highest, and if the worst thing you can say about the kid is he is too unselfish on the court that's pretty good. He has the work ethic and drive to fix every basketball hole in his game and is the only player in this draft who I think will end up on multiple All-Star teams. He's the definition of a "needle-mover".

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