Now that the positions for the 2015 NBA Draft have been fully locked in, eyes in the Rose City turn to Portland's pick at No. 23. History has shown that while a franchise-changing player does not fall into the 20s very often, solid All-Star-caliber players can occasionally be found in the area. Kenneth Faried at 22 in 2011 or Rudy Gobert at 27 in 2013, for example.
Almost every NBA media outlet has its mock draft engine working at full steam. Two of them (Bleacher Report and CBS Sports) have the Blazers snaring power forward Christian Wood from UNLV. The 6'11 sophomore is a slashing forward with signs of being able to shoot from mid-range. Wood is a work in progress player who would likely need a year of seasoning before contributing in meaningful minutes. Both outlets selected him based on assumptions that LaMarcus Aldridge will decide to leave Portland, so take that as you will.
Draft Express likes Portland taking Montrezl Harrell out of Louisville. Harrell is a hyper-athletic small forward, capable of constantly attacking the offensive glass and sprinting for alley-oops. He measured at 6'7 and 253 pounds, giving him terrific size to pair with above-average quickness. He does tend to go for the big play too often, blocking shots and putting back dunks, leaving him exposed on both ends of the floor. He will need to improve his instincts at the NBA level.
R.J. Hunter out of Georgia State has been a name talked about for Portland (Zach Harper of CBS Sports), though one wonders why. While the 6'6 shooting guard put up gaudy numbers last season, his three-point shooting was an abysmal 29% in the Sun Belt Conference. Even worse, he shot just 46% from two which is unthinkable at the college level from a score-first player. He does get to the free throw line a lot, but how does that fit into Portland's offense?
A potential dark horse candidate is Robert Upshaw, the defensive pillar at the University of Washington. The 7'0 center was a terrifying shot blocker, averaging 4.5 per game. His entire skill set reminds you of a taller Ben Wallace, capable of grabbing every rebound and blocking every shot. Obviously, the elephant in the room is his mid-season dismissal from the Huskies, his second such dismissal of his college career. His attitude and history will likely cause him to fall down the draft boards, but if he can figure things out personally, he will be a powerful defensive asset for any team.
Other talked about options for Portland include lockdown defender Justin Anderson from Virginia and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson from Arizona.