As we reach the final day of the Blazer's Edge All-Time Draft week, the General Managers (Chris Lucia, Sagar Trika, Dane Carbaugh, and myself) took the time to answer some various questions about the draft itself. Consider this a "post draft informal interview" with each GM, to get some insights into their thoughts. Let's dig in!
[Ed. Note: I sent out the questions while GM Sam Tongue was unavailable. Sorry about that, Sam! His answers are now added!]
In retrospect, did you regret any of your picks?
Tim: I came close with Marcus Camby. In retrospect, I might have grabbed Hollins in his spot, and taken Kermit Washington with #39. It wasn't that Camby was a poor player, it was simply that he had a short run, missed some games due to injury (and I already have an injury-prone center starting), and of course had a semi-acrimonious exit. But Camby fit my team so well, and he had a very good run, so he just seemed like a good addition anyway.
For the record, I considered a "when selected for the team, he reportedly happily finished his meal" joke in my commentary about Camby.
Chris: I'm actually pretty happy with the team I assembled, but I would do it a little differently if I had a do-over. I apparently highly overrated Jarrett Jack, taking him at No. 20 when I could've easily gotten him later, which was quite the oversight on my part. I was drafting for need instead of BPA here, and I left a lot of talented guys on the board who could've bolstered my bench. Oh well.
Dane: Not at all. The only issue could have been Damon Stoudamire over Rod Strickland, but since Stoudamire had chemistry with Scottie Pippen I felt that was a necessary evil given the rules of the game. Bonzi Wells was also a choice that could have gone in another direction, but I needed another real shooting guard who had a top talent and the chemistry in playing with Pippen was an added factor.
Sam: I think there's some regret about my eighth selection (Danny Ainge), but I think the one that gave me more thought afterwards was the Brian Grant choice. I loved his enforcer mentality and the way he could handle things on the defensive end, but knowing that Lionel Hollins was still on the board made that one my biggest regret.
Other than your own team, whose team was your favorite?
Chris: I worry about Dane's frontcourt defense, but that team would be pretty killer offensively. Then you've obviously got Tim's roster. Given full health, I'd say he's got it pretty complete and balanced. Damian Lillard and Bill Walton in the same starting lineup? Solid drafting, and kudos to Tim.
Sagar: I really really like Timmay's team. As an opponent, the duo of Damian Lillard and Bill Walton is SCARY. I also like his picks of Jim Paxson and Cliff Robinson. Well drafted, Timmay.
Dane: I like Timmay's team. Walton is great, even if statistically he's going to miss a bunch of games. Lillard is fun of course, and Paxson could score the ball from the guard spot even without a three-point shot. I'd also like to think the adaptation to the three-point line would come if we're plopping 25-year-old Paxson down into this team in 2014. They're a little thin at forward but then again, lots of teams (including championship ones) are built on a hierarchy. Not everyone needs to do everything and I think the top level of his team would mesh well together.
Tim: I really loved every team for different reasons. It was one of those drafts where you got to the end, looked at each team, and smiled at thinking about them playing together (and against each other!). In the end, I would have picked Sam's team. He grabbed a nice mix of defense and offense, along with a few blue-collar high energy players. And it feels like a team where the whole might actually be a bit better than the sum of the players.
Sam: Timmay really stole the show on this one. To have a solid draft in this format you had to have a little luck on your side by getting one of the top two picks, but also some skill to build players around them. I love that backcourt, and pairing Robinson with Walton would be a unique 1-2 punch up front. I just like the different things you could do with that lineup, especially given the wide range of skills Walton inherently has.
What player(s) would you have targeted to fill out your team in the next few rounds?
Chris: Lopez might've been my next pick, and Gerald Wallace would've been a nice piece off the bench.
Sagar: I would definitely be looking at Hickson and Robin Lopez. Lopez provides interior defense and rebounding. It's also tough to turn down someone with hair as magnificent as his. Channing Frye would also be someone I would've looked at if we took this draft to the 10th or 11th rounds, assuming he's still on the board.
Dane: I already said I would go for Lopez in my GM statement so let's stick with that. This team doesn't have a solid, defensive presence in the middle and that's because there aren't a lot of those worth drafting in an eight man team format. We're talking about Blazer greats here, and Przybilla or Marcus Camby doesn't exactly fit the bill.
[Ed. Note: Sagar and Dane would have been cranky after Chris' 41st pick.]
Tim: Bob Gross and Kermit Washington would have been my targets. I'd have also looked at Robin Lopez and Crash Wallace. And if we got into late rounds, I would have tried to steal Drazen Petrovic, but I'm not sure he would have dropped that far. If the centers were gone, Steve Johnson would have moved up my list.
I also laughed when Chris took Greg Anthony with the very last pick. He would have been on my radar to fill out my team. Nice pick, Chris.
Sam: Knowing the lack of defense I was getting from the starting center spot, Robin Lopez would've been a nice fit with my guys. He can play the team game, grab some boards, block a few shots. I know I have Przybilla, but I think RoLo still has some real upside at that position.
What player was picked much later than you expected overall?
Chris: Arvydas Sabonis certainly took a tumble before eventually landing on Sam's team at No. 17. Speaking of Mr. Tongue, it looks like he got two solid steals, with Kiki Vandeweghe at No. 27 as well. Andre Miller at No. 35 by Sagar was a bit later than I expected to see him taken.
Sagar: I thought Kiki Vandeweghe, who went at #27 to Sam, was a steal. I was also targeting Mychal Thompson, hoping he would slide further than he did, but Dane picked him up at #28.
Dane: Not many. I had planned some high value sleepers in Kiki and Thompson for late in the draft and Sam smartly picked up Kiki right before I was going to. It doesn't surprise me how late he went and I figured most would forget about him until it was too late.
Tim: Lionel Hollins' drift down the draft board surprised me. If I had needed a PG, I might have taken him in the 20's. His numbers numbers don't look good compared to the modern game, but he was very, very good. I also would have taken Arvydas Sabonis at #12 if I had needed a center, so I was surprised to see him fall. He was so freakin' good in his first years in Portland.
Also, he wasn't taken much later, but considering that injuries generally didn't play a role in the draft, Brandon Roy could have gone has high as third. The Blazers have arguably had three players so elite you could build a team around them (with apologies to Wallace, Petrie, and Aldridge) and Roy would be #3. Of course, Lucas was amazing, so he's a good choice, and Sam team worked nicely with Petrie, so everything was great. But if I had been picking #3, I might have picked #7.
Sam: I'm sticking with Kiki on this one, even though he was my pick -- to think a guy shooting at 50% and was an automatic 20 points a night would slip as far as he did was a complete shock.
Did you learn anything from participating in this draft?
Chris: In the first few rounds, take the best guy available. Even if it's not a position of need, the alternative can be drafting an underwhelming starter or two early on, which can be had at pretty much any time in the draft.
Sagar: As I noted on Twitter yesterday, the potential chain reactions in drafts are convoluted. Timmay wanted Mychal Thompson at #29, but Dane took him at #28 because Sam took Kiki Vandeweghe at #27. There is so much potential for a GM's plan to go wrong, as this sequence displayed:
Tim: I had forgotten the size of the divide in opinions of who is best, Drexer vs. Walton. That came rushing back to me in the debate between the #1 and 2 picks. There's no winner, but it feels like Walton currently has a more positive response amongst the fans. This is probably related to him making peace with the organization over the past few years (while Clyde seemed to distance himself from his Blazer roots) and, of course, the championship.
I learned that I dislike some historical Blazers more than I realized. I had a tier that was basically, "do not draft these guys unless it's absolutely necessary because they've fallen so far". Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire were in that tier, though I liked a lot of the team around them.
I also learned something I never saw coming: I learned I should cut NBA GM's a little more slack. This was just a fun exercise, and it obviously had no real gravity. But it didn't change how frustrated I was when the pick I wanted was grabbed just before me. Or when I grabbed Camby and, even though I was happy with the pick, I was mad at myself for passing on Kermit Washington for him. It's hard to imagine what it's like for an actual GM, who has everything on the line and has to answer to a team owner and president. And what might look good on draft night will look suddenly terrible 6 months later. I understand a little better why NBA GM's play musical chairs so often: With so few teams being truly successful, resentment must build up over time unless things go absolutely perfectly.
Sam: By the end, I felt much more comfortable with the skills and abilities of Blazers that played before I was born. Reading stories about Geoff Petrie's sheer talent was probably the best example from my team, but getting to know more about those teams in the late 1970s while I was deciding whom to pick was a neat byproduct.
Dane: I should have drafted Meyers Leonard in the first round.
Lastly, which jerseys would your team wear?
Sagar: I really like the white "Rip City" and red "Portland" jerseys the squad sported last season. They're popular and I love them. It's as simple as that.
Dane: I'll pick three jerseys so the boys have a full rotation. Primary blacks would be the 1991-2002 versions with the more classic, slightly rounded numbers and just a red offset behind the white numbers. The two others would be the current white Rip City jerseys and the alternate would be the current reds that say "Portland" on the front.
Tim: I can't resist fitting my team in my favorite jerseys: the classic '80s lower-case model. Looking at my roster, 6 of my 8 players wore that jersey at some point. I personally wish the Blazers would go retro and use a modern version of that design. Man, Damian would look perfect in that.
Sam: I've got to go with the old school vertical-text jerseys on this one -- not just because they're crazy cool, but because of what they represent: a team game that played its way into championship contention.
This officially concludes the Blazer's Edge All Time Draft Week! Thanks to all who participated, and the GM's, who were fair game for all kinds of fun!