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Blazer Draft Prospects: Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings

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We continue our look at potential Blazer draft picks with a review of a couple of point guards.

Darren Collison  6'1", 165lb projected point guard from UCLA

Why He Might Be the Guy

Unlike most of his point guard brethren in this draft, Collison is an able and willing defender.  He's been consistently able to stay with his man and has shown commitment to defense in the halfcourt and open floor both. He's not a bad scorer.  He's efficient in his attempts, notching impressive percentages from the floor, three-point line, and free throw line.  He's an honest point guard.  He'd bring a mix of proficiencies to the back-up point guard position.  You could trust him to work hard and learn his craft.  You could also trust him with your team.  Once again the prospective pick is from a high-profile school.  He's also one of the few points the Blazers would consider in this draft who can probably be had with their natural pick...no trade-up required.

Why He Might Not Be the Guy

Almost everything we just said comes with an asterisk.  Collison's 6'1" height isn't a deal-breaker but his skinny frame and lack of explosiveness may well make it hard for him to get the job done in the NBA.  Shots don't come as easily when guys can close out and leap higher than you.  That pick and roll doesn't work as well when you're getting bumped and chucked.  Collison isn't a real catch-and-shoot guy either, which is a staple of the current Blazer offense.  His 4.7 assists per game isn't bad but the 2.5 turnovers that accompany them make you blink.  That ratio isn't as high as some of his draft-mates.  Turning the ball over is pretty much the number one sin in the reserve point guard Bible for this team.  More pressure plus more contested shots equals less comfort, which means more chance of mistakes.  Every young point guard goes through that.  Does Collison have the physical tools to overcome?  More to the point, you invest 2-3 years of patience as he learns the league and what do you get on the other end?  A back-up point guard.  Portland's investment may be better spent elsewhere.

Brandon Jennings  6'1" 170lb projected point guard from Los Angeles via Europe

Why He Might Be the Guy

Jennings is one of the wild cards in this draft.  He's got potential as a scorer and passer without being stuck in between.  He's quick, explosive, and dangerous.  Like Brandon Roy he has his choice of directions to move with the ball, keeping the defender guessing.  His quickness side-to-side matches his speed up and down the court which gives you hope not only for his offense but his potential defense.  He can distribute in sets and off the move both.  He has the potential to be an all-around star.

Why He Might Not Be the Guy

Jennings doesn't carry much weight or strength.  Whatever potential is there, he's not a defender.  He's not a percentage shooter.  He doesn't have a deep game...a serious lack in Portland's system.  He needs the ball to be effective.  He got benched for the last part of his European stay.  He needs a ton of work before he'll be ready.  We've already got a guy with his general description farther along in the process than Jennings would be.  Jerryd Bayless will probably never be the point guard that Jennings could become.  But "could" is the operative word here.  With Collison you'd invest three years and end up with a back-up.  With Jennings you could invest three years and end up with a star or a bust.  The Blazers have walked that road before and found it not worth the effort.  Because of his potential Jennings will probably go in the upper half of the draft.  You're starting to think about serious scratch to get up there.  It'll probably cost you a real player, exchanged for a possible future player.  That's not a move the Blazers will consider worth it.  Jennings was Portland's pick three years ago.  Those days have passed.

Do either of these guys float your boat?  Is Collison a good settling point if Portland has to use its own pick?  Would Jennings be worth moving up for?

Share your wisdom on these guys with us in the comment section.

DraftExpress Mock Draft

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.  Don't forget the Blazersedge 2009 Mock Draft begins at 11:00 this morning.  Stay tuned!