If the Portland Trail Blazers stay at No. 7 and pick a player, the franchise is getting someone with a massive ceiling who could alter the franchise someday, but how much of an impact could that player make in his first season?
If the Blazers took a guard like Dyson Daniels or Shaedon Sharpe, it might be difficult for him to crack the starting five considering Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons (assuming he stays in Portland as a restricted free agent) already have the starting guard spots locked.
There is a chance Chauncey Billups could opt for a three-guard starting lineup, especially against small teams like the Golden State Warriors, but he wouldn’t likely be part of the main starting five.
Josh Hart is expected to be the team’s starting three for the upcoming season, which makes it unlikely for any wing prospects to start next season. That means players like AJ Griffin or Bennedict Mathurin would come off the bench. Both players could flex into the starting four spot, but it’s uncertain again if Billups will want to go that small.
The best chance for the Blazers to have their rookie lottery pick start is to select a big. Jusuf Nurkic is an unrestricted free agent that is waffling between whether he’ll be in Portland next season or not, which could open the door for a player like Jalen Duren to make an immediate impact. Should Nurkic stay, that would demote Duren or another big to the bench.
The power forward position is probably the most vulnerable, but Trendon Watford will have the inside track to start at the four at the beginning of the season. There’s also a good chance the team seeks out a veteran power forward, possibly in a trade, to complete the starting lineup. But none of that is guaranteed.
That’s been the biggest reason to trade the pick, since there is no obvious path for the player to help the team win a lot in his rookie year. That means whoever comes to Portland in the draft will have to get to work and earn the job.