The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Regardless of Portland’s lack of a pick in the second round, Olshey has shown a willingness to negotiate his way back into the selection process. Today we look at 19-year-old forward Darius Bazley.
- Height: 6’9”
- Weight: 208
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Shooting Hand: Left
- Position: F
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 41-55
Stats taken from Bazley’s 2018 performances in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
- PTS: 9.7
- REB: 5.7
- BLK: 0.7
- AST: 1.7
- FG%: 54.5
- 3P%: 40.0
- FT%: 75.0
Bazley’s mysterious upside begins with his favorable blend of length and ball handling skills. The Massachusetts native added bulk to his frame in his year away from organized basketball and he now possesses the size to adequately cover all five positions on the defensive end. Offensively, Bazley displays an above-average ability to create for himself and others for a player his size. Moving downhill, he is a threat to find open teammates slashing through the paint. Bazley’s reach allows him to attempt shots with a limited amount of space to work with. At the rim, he is comfortable finishing highlight-worthy dunks with either hand.
The jump from high school to the NBA could be cumbersome for Bazley after he sat idle for a season. His physical measurements represent his theoretical upside, but he has yet to show that he possesses a reliable scoring move in half-court sets. Bazley’s speed advantage will diminish against professional competition and he will have to adjust by refining his off-ball arsenal. So far, his limited body of work as three-point shooter does very little to guarantee that he can blossom into a floor spacer. Bazley’s year-long quest to add muscle in the weight room was successful, but he will have to continue adding strength in order to compete with traditional post players.
Bazley de-committed from Syracuse and revealed that he would explore the G League as an alternative path to the NBA. His partnership with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group led him in yet another direction. Bazley spent the entire year away from organized team basketball. Instead, he undertook a position as a million-dollar intern with New Balance. Along with exploring the business side of basketball, Bazley spent time honing his skills with former Celtics assistant Bryan Doo.
Here is Paul explaining Bazley’s unorthodox path on an episode of ESPN’s The Jump:
Bazley is a true “swing big” prospect. His skills and potential as a two-way wing align with prospects that are normally selected inside the lottery. Potential suitors will have to take a considerable leap of faith when selecting the former McDonald’s All-American. His quickness and agility are easily measured in a near-empty gym, but his ability to utilize those skills during in-game action presents a completely different question. Teams with a track record of internal development and strong G League affiliates should be the first organizations to line up for his services.
The Blazers bolstered their backcourt and post rotation in the previous two drafts—making an athletic forward like Bazley a reasonable option. Olshey has shown a willingness to invest in high-risk, high-reward prospects—an archetype that Bazley fit perfectly. His contributions on the court won’t be immediate, but a future trio alongside Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons is intriguing. If the Blazers slide into the second round, Bazley could give Portland a chance to select a lottery-level talent at a significantly reduced price.
The Blazers have hosted a plethora of players slated to be selected in the second round. So far, Bazley has been omitted from that list of prospects.
Do you want to see Bazley in a Blazers jersey next season? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.