First things first: I am pleased as can be about the state of the Blazers this season. We've seen a career year from our veteran All Star, an All-Star-level year from our young ROY, the emergence of Robin Lopez as possibly the best-contracted defensive big man in the league, and flashes of strong play from our young second unit. They've exceeded our most optimistic expectations, until the recent meltdown.
Now the second thing: It has become increasingly clear lately that this team, as is, cannot win a title. We must fix this through trades, free agency, or - as is the topic here - the draft.
Every year, leading up to March Madness, I net-scout as many stat leaders and defensive dynamos in the NCAA as I know exist (I'm sure the same is true for most of you). My fervor for this draft stock has been somewhat diminished, for two reasons: first, we don't currently have a pick; second, a team as (relatively) successful as ours usually goes for vets over potential projects.
Still, even with all our early-season success, we are no guarantee to land a significant free agent. We need to improve somehow, both in terms of potential and talent, while retaining our must-not-move players. My favorite Summer risk-reward ratio that meets this criteria is as follows:
1) Trade Batum to Boston for their 2014 first-round pick they received from the Nets (late-teens somewhere) and future second-round picks. This works because of Boston's massive Trade Exception they received for Paul Pierce. This sheds roughly $10 million (guaranteed) from the books.
2) Trade Wes to the Thunder for their late first-round pick, Andre Roberson, and future second-round picks (again, a trade exception lets this happen). This sheds roughly $6 million (guaranteed) from the books.
3) Draft Kyle Anderson from UCLA with the higher pick. Terrific distributor, 3-point shooter, and defender who plays the 2 and 3.
4) Draft Mitch A.J. Hammons (huge, shot-blocking center) and Shawn Long (big, shot-blocking center who averaged 40% from the 3PT Line) with the lower picks.
This would result in the following 2014/2015 situation:
PG: Lillard, McCollum
SG: Barton, Crabbe, Roberson
SF: Anderson, Claver
PF: LMA, Robinson, (Long)
C: Lopez, Freeland, Hammons, (Long)
That's two All-Stars, one terrific defensive presence at center, and roughly $21 million dollars in Free Agency. We could put our hats in for the Big One, or turn that into Lance Stephenson and change, or whatever it is you do when you have a ton of money and the GM who got Lopez for free.
Post your own, weary Blazersedger! How would you get into this draft, and save the day?