The 2016 NBA Draft has come to a close and the analysis is rolling in across the NBA. The Boston Celtics couldn't find a deal for all the assets they've collected for what feels like a decade, so they opted to instead pursue the "draft and stash everyone overseas" strategy. With three picks in the first round, the Celtics appeared to select players just to spite other teams who wouldn't accept their offerings. No matter how I feel about the Trail Blazers' participation in the draft this year, I can say one thing confidently: Portland still had a better draft than the Celtics.
Meanwhile, on the west coast, the Blazers waited patiently, coyly even as the Celtics made pick after head-scratching pick, only to snag a late second-rounder they had targeted. That guy? The 6-foot-9 swingman from the University of Maryland, Jake Layman. If you're sitting there thinking, "who?" you're not alone. If you head to nbadraft.net there's a blank page. Literally. However, if you pop on over to the folks at draftexpress.com you can begin to get a feel for the young man:
Jake Layman finished his solid, yet inconsistent, four year career at Maryland as a role player for a team that wound up in the Sweet Sixteen. He has plenty of attributes that project him to be a viable NBA prospect, but he also several pressing questions to address to ensure he can carve out a fruitful NBA career.
For those who are more visual, here's a quick look at Layman during his pre-draft workout:
If you're looking for the quick synopsis on Layman, he's a stretch 4-ish forward and solid but streaky perimeter shooter. He has an average wingspan with sneaky hops, but lacks lateral quickness. Looking for a comparison? Think rookie-level, inconsistent Allen Crabbe: a solid shooter with a shaky handle, who lacks side-to-side mobility and tends to disappear from the offense at times. He has the potential to develop into a serviceable/late rotation-type NBA player. At the No. 47 pick, you really can't be too upset with that kind of resume.
Heading into the draft, a lot of speculation surrounding the Blazers led a lot of folks (including me) to believe they would move into the first round and pick up a young player on a valuable rookie-scale deal. Those of us who felt that way were wrong. Some might wonder why the Blazers opted to sit out the draft until the 47th pick.
Earlier in the day, rumors circled that the Charlotte Hornets were offering the 22nd pick and either Spencer Hawes or Jeremy Lamb - for free essentially. All the receiving team had to do was take either player and absorb the cap hit. To some, that felt like a no-brainer deal for Portland to pursue; You get a first-round pick and a player locked in at a decent rate (Lamb) or a stretch-big on a cheaper deal who's going to opt out after next season (Hawes).
Why didn't Portland pounce on that deal? Did Blazers GM Neil Olshey and the Portland staff not value anyone in the first round? The second point here feels most logical. With so much up and down and left and right with opposing draft boards, it was incredibly hard to gauge where a player could be picked. One could say a player drafted at No. 17 could've just as easily fallen to No. 37, and thus they weren't worthy of giving up the necessary assets to move up and take them.
Does Olshey have a free agent lined up who requires every penny possible to sign come July? This seems to be the most logical conclusion, once paired with the outcome of the draft. By not making any deals or bringing on any guaranteed contracts, the Blazers' financial and roster position is fixed heading into free agency.
While the draft usually answers some roster questions for a team heading into free agency, it feels like the Blazers left the draft with even more questions than they had coming in. They currently have nine players under contract, and three of them are Pat Connaughton, Cliff Alexander, and Luis Montero. The draft offered one avenue to help fill out the roster and restock some of the more valuable contracts that players like CJ McCollum and Mason Plumlee will soon be coming off of.
I have one final question heading into the next step of the offseason: What do Olshey and his staff have up their sleeves for free agency? With up to six spots on the roster open, they have plenty of opportunity for team building this summer.