The Trail Blazers enter draft night with a lone selection in the second round after completing a trade for Robert Covington on Monday. After months of preparation and evaluation, Steve Dewald delivers his final pre-draft analysis of the 2020 class.
The Blazers Made the Right Call
One thing became abundantly clear in the lead up to the 2020 NBA Draft: the Blazers did not have a list of solid options at No. 16. Tucked into a slot just outside of the lottery, Portland ran the risk of missing out on four intriguing forward options. Patrick Williams, Devin Vassell, Aaron Nesmith and Saddiq Bey all appeared to be trending up draft boards; putting them out of the Blazers’ reach.
Bey, the likeliest of all those forwards to slip to the Blazers, did not fit the mold of previous selections made by Neil Olshey. His lack of elite athleticism, coupled with a pedestrian ceiling, hardly made him a must-have prospect for Portland. I would assume that line of thinking is why so much of the pre-draft noise surrounding the Blazers involved RJ Hampton and Jay Scrubb, two prospects that are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Bey.
Losing a pick in what appears to be a strong 2021 draft stings a bit, but the Blazers made the right move by shipping out the No. 16 pick this year. Without an enticing pool of players to choose from in that range, Olshey’s win-now move looks even better.
The Smart Money is Still on Scrubb
I would not be shocked to see the Blazers attempt to move into position to select Scrubb tonight. There is a possibility that the former JUCO star slips to No. 46, but there are trade opportunities in front of Portland. The Kings, Pelicans and the Sixers all have multiple second-round picks in the range just in front of the Blazers. Of those three organizations, I would keep an eye on Sacramento. The Blazers and Kings are familiar trade partners.
Drama at the Top
The lack of a true No. 1 prospect is on clear display. The first tier of this draft class has always been suspect and the potential for movement at the top of this process will reflect that. I would argue that the No. 3 slot is prime real estate. If they don’t trade the pick, the Hornets will have the luxury of choosing their prospect in the Melo Zone (oh, Darko). One of the following three prospects will still be available for Charlotte: Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball. Each one of those players has a compelling case as the top prospect.
Yes. The Blazers have had success in the latter stages of the draft. But the Raptors and Spurs have supplemented top-level talent with late-round picks en route to NBA titles. Both of those teams have a type: highly skilled players with transferable talents (DeJuan Blair, Pascal Siakam, etc).
In this draft, I have tabbed seven players with that billing.
- Desmond Bane
- Malachi Flynn
- Cassius Winston
- Xavier Tillman
- Tyler Bey
- Sam Merrill
- Payton Pritchard
Thank you to everyone that followed our pre-draft coverage this year. Please stay tuned for information regarding tonight’s livestream.