With the 2015 NBA Draft one week away, it's time for the official Blazer's Edge "we hope the Portland Trail Blazers take these players" thread. We narrow down the draft field to 2-3 players Portland might have a shot at, give or take a reasonable move up or down. CJ McCollum, Meyers Leonard, and Damian Lillard all made the list in past years. Who do we want the Blazers to take this time around?
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 6'7", 211lb projected SF, a 20-year-old sophomore from Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson doesn't fit the current Portland system entirely. He can't shoot threes, or any jumpers really. He's not a great one-on-one threat either. But his athleticism is off the charts and he can score at the rim. Plus he projects as a good defender at the next level. Jumpers can develop; athleticism doesn't. Hollis-Jefferson has enough raw power to qualify for "project" status. If the Blazers re-sign their key players they don't need their rookies to come through right away. If they start over without their current core, they have time for young players to develop. Those players could be developing under a new system as well, as Portland's current approach revolves around their veterans.
Even if the whole world is transitioning to three-point centered basketball (rightfully so), players like Hollis-Jefferson will always have a place. The Blazers' lineup could use more punch and RHJ may be their guy.
Delon Wright, 6'6", 181lb projected PG, a 23-year-old senior from Utah
Once again we eschew distance shooting for other qualities, At 35.6% from NCAA three-point distance Wright isn't Hollis-Jefferson horrible, but marksmanship isn't his strongest point. But he's tall, he's a good defender, and he's got the kind of offensive trickery that reminds one of Brandon Roy or Damian Lillard, both of whom were considered "not athletic" coming out of college. Wright's offensive impact won't be as pronounced, but his potential to play both ends of the floor merits a strong look from the Blazers. They don't need a starting point guard but they could use a defender with pop. Delon Wright fills the bill.
Besides, he's Dorell Wright's brother. What more could you ask for?
Robert Upshaw, 7'0", 258lb projected C, a 21-year-old sophomore formerly from Washington
If Hollis-Jefferson is the "Blazers move up a little" selection and Wright is the "stand pat" guy, Robert Upshaw is Portland's "move down or snag in the second round" candidate. Discipline issues have dogged him. He's been kicked off teams at Fresno State and Washington. But Portland's locker room and coaching staff are as good as any in the NBA. If the Blazers aren't spending a high pick on him, Upshaw's size and mobility could make him worth the risk. 7-footers with talent and lateral speed don't grow on trees. If he picks up footwork and positioning, Upshaw's strength will make him a force in the post. He's already a fine rebounder. If the Blazers could pick up a center capable of snagging boards and hedging a screen, they'd come out ahead.
Most years our picks are either-or, but this year we're going to get greedy. If the Blazers could pick up an extra pick slightly above their current location--as in this proposed trade with the Washington Wizards, suggested by sister-site BulletsForever--they could actually get Hollis-Jefferson, Wright, and Upshaw. That would be an interesting, exciting developmental class. If Portland can pull that off, next Thursday will be some evening.
Honorable mention goes to Maryland shooting guard Dez Wells, also suggested by our staff but not quite making the final cut,
That's our list, who's on yours? Let us know below. One week and counting!