As the NBA’s regular season comes to a close, what many thought possible since the All-Star break is finally official. Ever since the Blazers seemingly forgot how to win around the middle of the season fans around Portland have whispered, maybe even hoped for the current scenario.
With 82 games in the books everyone it is now official, Portland has finished with the worst record in the NBA at a paltry 21-61. Although the Blazers’ disappointing record marks their worst since their third season of existence, it could pay some immediate dividends.
With the current situation it appears the Blazers will have the top pick in the draft, but unlike the NFL, the worst record doesn’t guarantee the first pick.
A quick glance at the Blazers’ draft history will prove that having the first pick is especially important to this franchise. Portland has owned the number one pick three times in their history, making superb selections in Bill Walton and Michael Thompson.
However, when Portland has slipped to the second slot they have had some trouble. Sidney Wicks was a great pick at number two, but the selection that still stings is choosing Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in 1984. While it doesn’t appear that there is a player the caliber of MJ in this draft, Portland will definitely have some options.
Here are some of the players that could be wearing a Blazers’ uniform next season:
This shaggy Gonzaga Bulldog has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. At 6-8 and 205 pounds, Morrison has the frame to play shooting guard or small forward at the next level. He is a multidimensional talent with a sweet stroke, as he shot nearly 43 percent from the arc last season and also possesses the ability to successfully penetrate through defenses designed to shut him down.
The only concern with this Spokane star is his overly aggressive, emotional demeanor on the court. Any NBA coach would say that they love a player that cares how he and his team perform on the court. Morrison has proven that he is an elite talent, but he may need to show more maturity before his true talent can be realized.
Without a true perimeter shooter Portland could use a player that can consistently knock down threes and also effectively take the ball to the hoop in the lane. This fiery prospect is like a bigger, more physical and athletic version of Juan Dixon. Both players can shoot with consistently but while Dixon may have trouble taking it to the trees in the lane, Morrison shouldn’t have a problem.
Immediately this 6-10 and 240 pound power forward from Texas appears to be the most appealing player in the draft. He definitely has the potential to be a franchise’s centerpiece for years to come. Aldridge is young at only 20 years old, but he so intriguing with great low post moves and an athleticism that can only be matched by few. His large frame and extremely long arms will allow him to compete with the best power forwards in the league.
The Longhorn’s best player is also the draft’s most complete player. His size, skill set on the offensive end and ability to alter shots on defense propels him to the top of the draft. Last season, Aldridge averaged 15 points, 9.2 rebounds and two blocks a game. He has the complete package, but many teams may be hesitant to select him due to his lackluster tournament performance.
Aldridge may be extremely appealing but that doesn’t mean the Blazers will necessarily select him because he can’t satisfy their immediate needs due to his inability to shot from the perimeter and lack of height to fill their void at the center position.
Thomas is definitely the wildcard of this year’s draft. This young, raw talent from LSU is ranked as the best prospect by many not necessarily for what he has already done, but strictly due to his astronomic potential. He had a stellar tournament, displaying his skills on offense and defense all the way to the Final Four. The only question is can he ride his tourney success all the way to the top selection in the NBA Draft?
Probably, Thomas averaged just a touch over 12 points and nine rebounds a game over the course of last season and has upside like no other player in the draft. Thomas has survived strictly on athleticism so far and has yet to develop a low post presence on jump shot. He will need to prove that he can polish his offense before any team will select him with the first pick.
So, while Portland definitely needs a player the caliber of what will be Thomas two or three years, they also need to win now. Thomas looks really good on paper but with their recent “success” selecting potential stars the Blazers may refrain from selecting this young stud.
After completing a disappointing season Portland is guaranteed to have one of the top three picks in the draft, most likely the first overall selection. The good news for the Blazers and their faithful is that they have solid options in these young athletes.