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Duren, Griffin And Mathurin Potential Blazers In Post Lottery Mock Drafts

Instant reaction to last night’s lottery suggests Portland picking a range of prospects with the seventh pick.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Greenville Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers secured the seventh pick in the 2022 NBA Draft after last night’s lottery drawing. A number of mock drafts have highlighted a range of players that might be in the Blazers’ range if they decide to use the pick.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor linked the Blazers with Duke 3 and D wing AJ Griffin.

Griffin is at his best as a 3-and-D role player type, something he displayed all season long for the Blue Devils. But he has on-ball skill that could turn him into a go-to scoring presence. The Blazers have long needed a rangey wing defender who can also score next to Damian Lillard. Griffin could provide something they’ve been missing for years as well as long-term upside.

Sports Illustrated Jeremy Woo sees the Blazers picking explosive Arizona wing Benedict Mathurin.

Mathurin cashed in on a big opportunity at Arizona, emerging as a go-to scorer and a force in transition while polishing up his game as a playmaker and defender. He’s a high-level athlete with some untapped skill potential, and he should be able to help contribute buckets as a complementary scorer next season. Mathurin isn’t the most intuitive player, but it still feels like he’s coming into his own. He displayed confidence and character while coming up big in some notable spots over the course of the season. He’s also young for a sophomore, which makes his individual development over the past year that much more encouraging. He’s an interesting fit in Portland, which needs to find supporting scorers around Damian Lillard and could use help on the wing.

Gary Parrish at CBS points towards a union between the Blazers and Kansas National Champion wing Ochai Agbaji.

I’m higher on Agbaji than most simply because I don’t understand what’s not to like about a 6-5 athlete who is a plus-defender on the wing and excellent 3-point shooter. Once you get past the top-tier prospects in this draft, the Kansas All-American makes as much sense as anybody and would provide Damian Lillard with a new teammate equipped to help from Day One.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie (subscription required) chose Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan as the Blazer’s pick.

Sochan has risen up the draft board throughout the year. Teams are fascinated by his upside as a player who is extremely versatile on both ends of the floor. He’s a switchable defender as a 6-foot-9 big who can realistically guard all five positions using his mobility. He’s also really smart with his positioning and timing and seems to have terrific instincts.

Offensively, he’s huge, can handle the ball over large spaces, make reasonably high-level passes and finish effectively at the rim. Really, the only concern among scouts is his shooting. But there are some in the industry who see Sochan as a late riser, like Patrick Williams in 2020, because of how multifaceted his game is at his size. If you buy that Sochan’s shooting will improve, he has a real chance to be an impact player given his two-way upside at his size.

In general, the Blazers’ front office — much of which is still in place from the departed Neil Olshey’s regime — has tended to draft very young and upside-driven. Sochan is the kind of guy who has tended to fit with how they like to invest in projects. They could also use an impact defender.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, USA Today’s Bryan Kalbrosky and SB Nation’s Rickly O’Donnell have all pigeonholed Memphis center Jalen Duren as the Blazers’ pick.

Givony says. (subscription required)

The Blazers are early in their rebuilding process and have a gaping void at center, where often-injured Jusuf Nurkic is entering unrestricted free agency this summer. Duren is the most physically gifted big man in this class, bringing impressive finishing prowess as well as outstanding defensive potential as both a rim-protector and in guarding pick-and-rolls. As the youngest player in this class, he has considerable upside to grow into as well.

Kalbrosky noted:

Duren is perhaps the most physically gifted prospect in this class, and he is an excellent shot blocker. He looks the part of a top pick, but some scouts have expressed concerns about his motor, and he is a non-factor as a shooter, which limits the spacing for his team.

And O’Donnell wrote:

Duren is the second youngest player in this draft, but his imposing physicality will be his best attribute from day one in the league. Duren is expected to measure at 6’10, 250 pounds with a 7’5 wingspan while possessing arguably more raw power than any prospect in this class. Duren is not a floor spacer at this stage (he didn’t make a three-pointer in college), but he’ll provide value as a lob target, offensive rebounder, and short roll passer on offense. His status as a prospect of this caliber likely depends on how you evaluate his defense. I’m on the optimistic end there because I believe he has the versatility to play multiple coverages against the pick-and-roll. Duren has the length to play drop coverage and the quickness to stick with ball handlers on the perimeter for a few moments when he gets to the level of the screen. He should also be a major deterrent at the rim after posting a 10 percent block rate as a freshman. Centers of Duren’s ilk typically aren’t viewed as super valuable, but his youth, physical gifts, and emerging passing ability provides plenty of reason to believe in him.