Blazers start the 2012 season off right
With two lottery picks and two second rounders at their disposal, the Blazers made the moves necessary to get better and are heading in the right direction as we now wait for free agency to begin July 11.
Here is a look at what the Blazers did on draft day:
(No.6) Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is the player the Blazers needed to pick with the No. 6 pick.
He undoubtedly fills a need, as the Blazers have been looking for their point guard of the future for quite some time now; but when it’s all said and done, he may also prove to be the most talented player that was left on the board at that time.
A 24.5 point-per game scorer last year, Lillard is a model of the new NBA point guard—big, quick and athletic with the ability to take over a game from start to finish.
His silky jump shot put him above 40 percent from behind the arch at Weber State and his size and athleticism makes him a threat to finish over defenders in the paint on any possession.
There are certainly questions surrounding his level of competition at a mid-major college, and some wonder how well he’ll transition from a scorer to a passer at the next level.
That being said, there’s superstar potential in this kid, and with a great motor and excellent work ethic, he should be able to kick any adversity aside and make a name for himself as an NBA point guard.
(No.11) Meyers Leonard
With their second pick the draft, the Blazers opted to go big with 7’1”, 250-pound Meyers Leonard out of Illinois.
Meyers does have a history of injuries, but his soft shooting touch and impressive athletic ability make him a solid option in the middle right away.
Besides, the injury troubles have to stop at some point for the Blazers, don’t they?
If they don’t, the Blazers are going to get reamed for passing on a big-man option Tyler Zeller and superior talent , such as Jeremy Lamb, Mo Harkless and Terrence Jones.
The truth is, though, with LaMarcus Aldridge dominating the post in Portland, the team doesn’t need stardom in the paint; they need size and competency, and on the surface, Leonard gives them both.
(No. 40 Traded to Brooklyn Nets) Tyshawn Taylor
It just wouldn’t have felt like draft day without a trade from the Trail Blazers organization.
Although not anywhere near the exciting moves we’ve seen in the past, the Blazers trading Tyshawn Taylor’s rights to the Brooklyn Nets for cash considerations shows that the team wasn’t willing to just flood the rotation with young players as they attempt to “retool,” not rebuild.
(No. 41) Will Barton
Will Barton would have liked to see his name called earlier, as his stock had risen drastically leading up to the draft; but his loss is the Blazers’ gain.
The 6’6”, 175-pound shooting guard averaged 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds at Memphis last season.
With his quick first step, Barton is a highly aggressive player who will come in and provide not just a good mid-range game, but a deep-threat ability that can lead to a high volume of points early in his career.
He is going to need to add muscle to his frame and he can be a streaky shooter at times, but with the 41st pick in the draft, there is very little risk to this selection.
Barton could prove to be one of the steals of the draft, as he’ll likely find time in the rotation following the loss of Jamal Crawford this summer.
The Blazers came in with two glaring holes in their rotation, and they left with two very solid players occupying those positions.
Leonard fills a need at center and should be a competent big man as long as he stays healthy.
Lillard should help the Blazers and their fans forget about the failed Raymond Felton experiment from last year, but his impact on the team could be so much higher than that.
The potential for stardom is there, and it could make him one of the league’s top point guards if his game develops as his talent suggests it could.
Sticking with general manager Neil Olshey’s retooling method, the Blazers avoided adding too many young players and traded away one of the picks.
Stronger talent could have been added in the lottery, but the team did what it needed to do, and even added a strong bench to add depth to the shooting guard position.
This team is going to be better next season, and the 2012 NBA draft is a major reason why.
Overall Grade: B