With the season behind them, the Portland Trail Blazers now look to the NBA Draft to improve on their 41 wins in 2016-17. Can they make the most out of their three first round picks (15, 20, 26)? One of the most intriguing prospects in the upcoming draft is Ivan Rabb out of the University of California.
The 6-foot-11 forward declared for the NBA Draft last season and was told he was most likely going to be a lottery pick. After taking a couple of days to decide, he surprisingly elected not to stay in the draft and, instead, returned for his sophomore season at California. While Rabb did improve in his sophomore campaign, his draft stock dropped and he is now projected to be picked outside of the lottery. He could be an intriguing option for the Blazers.
Rabb showed improvements in both rebounding and scoring in 2016-17, going from 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 2015-16 to 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season. His efficiency on offense did not hold up though, as his field goal percentage fell from 61.5 percent to 48.6 percent. That could be one of the main reasons that Rabb’s draft stock dropped following his return to California, according to Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders.
Although his stock fell, Rabb still believes his decision to return to school was a move that was best for him. He told Brigham that he matured and that he is now ready to make an impact in the league. Rabb also improved tremendously as a rebounder, not only on the defensive end but on the offensive end as well.
“Staying in school, I changed my mentality a lot. I’m way more mature, including off the court. I’ve been able to say no to people, and on the court I’m working even harder. I worked hard before, but now it’s like this whole other level.”
“One thing I know that could translate to the NBA right now is rebounding the ball,” he said. “I can hit the offensive glass really well. I can run the floor and space the floor because I’m shooting the ball so fluidly. Every part of game is becoming more polished every day, which is why I really think it was time for me to do this.”
The drop in Rabb’s stock has seemed to work in the Blazers’ favor. They have the opportunity to make a huge splash in the first round and Rabb seems to be a nice option for the team.