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Weekend Thoughts: Draft Needs

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We're going to start to transition into draft talk now and the best way to start is probably to assess what the team needs.  That'll be the discussion for the weekend.

For my part, I tend to go with the same assessment Kevin Pritchard has given:  we just need talent.  Obviously we have some bigger holes at some positions than others.  A talented, starting small forward would be great.  Centers are always in style.  Point guard has been mentioned.  But I look at our roster right now and two things stand out:

  1.  If you're counting very talented, really solid guys that we can depend on to contribute rain or shine, I count two:  Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge.  (Some might argue that we haven't seen enough to make the latter call but I'm pretty sure I have.  He's going to be good.)  Zach Randolph should be on there too but I honestly don't think he'll be on this team three years from now.  We've also got a handful of young guys we're not sure about.  Jarrett Jack is fairly consistent but might not be starting material.  Martell and Travis have potential but haven't put it together.  Sergio is too young to know much about.  Beyond that we have role-playing veterans who could be nice in some situations but aren't main guys. When push comes to shove, that's still a pretty thin roster upon which to be hanging dreams.  We need at least one other guy this year.
  2.  Both of our bankable guys are of indeterminate position right now.  Brandon could be a two or a one, Lamarcus a four or a five.  We don't know, and maybe they're both.
To me that adds up to an easy decision.  Sure it would be great to get talent at the 3, 5, or 1 positions but if the most talented, bankable guy is a power forward or shooting guard, so be it.  There's wiggle room on our roster.  Plus talented guys can always become trading chips later.  It's not like we're going to contend next year anyway.  We still have some time.

One thing I think we absolutely have to avoid is "projects".  Rolling the dice is fine when you have an established team already and you're picking mid-round.  I also didn't mind it much when we were obviously in decline and rebuilding.  But when you've got your foundation half built and you're looking to upswing you just can't do it.  I'll be honest...I hate the situation we're in with Travis Outlaw right now.  We've had him for four full seasons and we're still not sure what he can do.  Now we have to make a decision whether to re-sign him, for how long, and for how much.  And if things don't change we're going to be telling the same story about Martell when his contract comes up.  As was pointed out in the Thursday chat, we're going to have a ton of contracts come up at the same time in a few years (assuming these players pan out).  We can't afford to be in the dark about them.  You cannot get caught in Darius Miles-like mistakes in this league if you want to have a great franchise.  You've got to know who you're signing and what they can give.  I don't mind getting a guy who takes a couple years to develop, but I want to know that he will develop and more or less what he will develop into.

Finally, it's nice to talk about all the moves you can make and getting extra value out of later picks, but the pick we're going to live and die with in this draft is our first one.  That's true whether we pick in order or trade up or down or out or whatever.  This part, at least, isn't brain surgery.  If you want to be good you cannot blow that pick.  We're already starting to lament getting cute in the Willams/Paul draft.  If we have more cause to lament a couple years from now I don't see this team going anywhere special.

If you ask what we need more of as far as skills/attributes I'd say the following list would be important:

Passing skills
Defense
Rebounding
Outside shooting
Size and strength
Toughness

Plus you know KP is going to get a "culture" guy.  That goes without saying.

So that's my call:  we need talent at any position.  The guy doesn't have to be another NBA-ready Rookie of the Year lock but we can't be rolling the dice.  Helping in at least 2-3 areas on that list would be a big bonus.  Being a center or small forward would be a slightly smaller one.

So what's your call?  What are our needs in this draft?  Don't skip ahead of me and start naming players, just give us needs to be filled.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)