Just one day remains until the 2017 NBA Draft. The Portland Trail Blazers have had weeks to evaluate young talent and determine which prospects are most deserving of selection at 15, 20, and 26. We at Blazer’s Edge have spent those weeks analyzing candidates as well and have for you, today, our preferred Portland picks—assuming no trades for the purpose of this exercise. Here we go!
No. 15 - John Collins
Collins is young, highly athletic, and is a tremendously effective pick-and-roll scorer. It just so happens that if he is available at 15, the Blazers can simultaneously draft the best player available while bolstering one of their weaker positions. His defense has a ways to go, but look, once you’re out of the lottery, every player has flaws. It’s hard not to like his numbers, though. Collins posted 28.8 points and 14.8 rebounds per 40 minutes as a sophomore. Sign me up.
No. 20 - OG Anunoby
Defense. Defense, defense, defense. Anunoby is good at other things too, but he is on my draft board for this reason. He is somehow as quick as he is muscular, can stay in front of guards, and has textbook form. Yes, he is recovering from an ACL tear, but he wouldn’t be available at 20 otherwise. He still might not be, but projections have him falling past his initial 13-16 range, as other prospects had opportunities to impress in workouts where he did not. There is “potential steal” written all over him.
No. 26 - Anžejs Pasečņiks
If you’re going to swing on talent this late, you might as well aim big. Pasečņiks is as big as they come, at 7’2”. As Hasheem Thabeet taught us, this strategy is far from fool proof, but Pasečņiks is more than his measurements. He’s got soft touch with both hands, a semblance of an outside shot, and defensive upside—if only “upside” at this point. Plus, he’s a solid draft-and-stash option.
No. 15 - John Collins
Collins still needs a fair amount of grooming before he is ready to be a consistent contributor on both ends of the court for the Blazers, but he has the all the physical tools to complement Portland’s current core of players on offense. Noah Vonleh found success operating in the space Jusuf Nurkic created, and Collins should be able to contribute in a similar way. Portland needs players that can produce at a low-cost, making Collins a solid option for the Blazers’ first pick.
No. 20 - Anžejs Pasečņiks
With Portland’s salary cap limitations in mind, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey reaches for the best draft-and-stash option in the draft with the Blazers’ second pick. Pasečņiks is 7’2”, and he shoots the ball as efficiently as most perimeter players that are projected to be selected around him. At the very least, Portland gains an interesting trade chip by claiming the rights to Pasečņiks.
No. 26 - Semi Ojeleye
The Blazers address the defensive side of the ball with their final selection, going with a potential steal in Ojeleye, one the drafts most impressive athletes. Along with his defensive chops, the former SMU standout is a capable shooter, making him an excellent pick for Portland as the first round comes to a close. With a roster already loaded with less-than-cap-friendly contracts, Ojeleye will give Olshey some flexibility moving forward.
No. 15 - Jarrett Allen
If the Blazers keep all three picks, I want to get a backup center, get someone to stash, and get a power forward or wing shooter. There is only a slight difference in value between the centers that could be available at this point; Allen, Harry Giles, Justin Patton, Collins, Bam Adebayo or even Ike Anigbogu. They are all very different players, but the best of the bunch, Allen, is not leaps and bounds beyond Anigbogu. If all of them are still available at 15, I would rather fill another need with Justin Jackson or Luke Kennard as our first pick, and then take the best big available at 20. It depends how the draft shakes out. That being said, Allen’s NBA readiness along with his massive (literally) potential, make him the best player for the Blazers at 15.
No. 20 - Justin Jackson
Jackson may be hard to get at 20, but it would not be out of the realm of possibility. Going along with my previous guidelines, getting Jackson would be a great compliment to Allen. Jackson is a very creative scorer and good floor spacer. When North Carolina got into a situation where an opposing guard or wing was hurting them, Jackson immediately switched and took the challenge. He is not known as an elite defender, but he is a competitor and a winner. While his lack of quickness is a problem, his size, length, mentality, and skill will make for a bright future in the NBA.
No. 26 - Anžejs Pasečņiks
The Blazers have their Center, their wing, and Pasečņiks is the ideal stash. The big Latvian is a legit 7’2” and runs around more fluidly than most guys his size do. He needs to develop some toughness before he makes the leap, but his size and mobility make him the perfect asset that does not count against the Blazers cap.
Who do you want the Blazers to select?