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Soundbytes: Blazers GM Neil Olshey Introduces 2012 Rookies: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard & Will Barton

Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey introduced the team's three rookies -- Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Will Barton -- during a press conference on Monday. The full video of the group press conference is online at

Here are some of the key soundbytes from the press conference. They aren't word-for-word quotes although they are close. Apologies for the crude nature of this post but it's been one of those Mondays.

Blazers GM Neil Olshey

We think we had one of the best drafts in the league.

Damian Lillard -- Our franchise point guard... compared to Chauncey Billups -- quiet presence, command presence, shooter, great decisions with the ball, players love to play with, team-first guy.

Meyers Leonard -- Great young talent, blew up his sophomore year, talent is off the charts, has a chance to be a franchise center, athletically he's a superior athlete, he's got an emerging skillset, great touch from the free throw line, face-up game, can score over his left shoulder, can be impact player on the defensive end, a great piece of our core.

Will Barton -- I still have no idea how Will got to 40. Paul Allen started asking to trade up to get him at 22. We kept running into head strong teams that wouldn't move their picks. He was a gift. He should have been in the mid-to-late first round in terms of talent. Rebounds like a big man. Tireless motor. Nightmare for guys in practice. Has a chance to be a starter. Big-time mid-range game. One of best rebounding wing players.

Three core pieces in three different areas of the floor.

Damian Lillard

My whole life I've been the underdog. Had to work for everything. I still have to come in and work for it, earn my stripes.

I'm not cocky at all. I'm extremely confident. I'm from a city where that's what we breed. Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw.

On Summer League: I want to get better. We'll all be new to it... It will be fun to finally step into an NBA environment and get some games under our belt.

Summer League goals: Play well, win games, get comfortable with these guys... I want to show people that I belong. There's still a lot of doubters out there, I want to prove them wrong.

Meyers Leonard

I have to come in and work very hard. Develop in every aspect of the game. Be a good person off the court. Learn every day, be a sponge. Learn from a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge.

I think I have the opportunity [to play minutes as a rookie] but it's something I have to work very hard for.

Will Barton

On slipping into second round: Mixed emotions. Real upset. Hearing I would go from 17 to 30. Confident I would land in that range. I'm still on the board, waiting and waiting and waiting. When I got picked I was so happy. I just always wanted to play in the NBA. Once Portland took a chance on me, all my anger turned to happiness.

Summer League goals: Build a bond and chemistry. I'm a guy who is big on family, my teammates will be like family... I want to prove myself right and not the doubters wrong.

What's fit as NBA player: I'm a guy who accepts his role. I'll do whatever the coach and staff needs me to do. I'm a gym rat. I'm real versatile. At 6-foot-6, I can play the one, two and three, defend those positions. Create a shot.

Neil Olshey

On Will Barton dropping: It happens. Carlos Boozer, Monta Ellis, DeAndre Jordan, etc. It's not a perfect science. Three years from now, you could be in the D-League fighting for your life, overseas or I could be writing you a big check. [Memphis coach] Josh Pastner said we got the steal of the Draft.

And, now, for the best quote of all, apparently from a camera man. As the players posed to hold up their jerseys at the press conference, a man's voice could be heard saying: "As if this is not contrived enough."


Lillard will wear No. 0. Leonard will wear No. 11. Barton will wear No. 5.

Earlier, I posted a transcript of Olshey meeting with the Portland media to discuss the resignation of Blazers president Larry Miller and the team's upcoming coach search.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter