(Sports Network) - The Portland Trail Blazers hung in the Western Conference
playoff hunt much longer than anyone suspected they would.
The reasons were simple: LaMarcus Aldridge is the least appreciated star in
the league and Damian Lillard was the Rookie of the Year last season in the
They were fantastic and Wesley Matthews, J.J. Hickson and Nicolas Batum are
solid players. Hickson is a free agent, so who knows what happens there.
If Hickson were to bolt Portland, a big man would make sense with the 10th
pick. Cody Zeller of Indiana, Kelly Olynyk of nearby Gonzaga or Steven Adams,
the raw center from Pittsburgh could all fit.
Another need for the Blazers is a great shooter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of
Georgia is a great shooter, but he could very easily go one spot earlier to
the equally shooting-deprived Minnesota Timberwolves.
The most interesting potential pick out there for Portland is C.J. McCollum of
Lehigh. He reminds some of Lillard in that both were combo guards (Lillard is
a much more natural point guard than McCollum) and both came from small
schools. Lillard went to Weber State and neither that nor Lehigh will be
confused with Kentucky or Duke.
Portland owns three second-round picks, which could be used effectively. The
second round will have some talent in it, and the Blazers had the worst bench
by miles in the NBA last season.
Under Contract: F: LaMarcus Aldridge; G: Wesley Matthews; G: Damian Lillard;
F/C: Joel Freeland; C: Meyers Leonard; G: Victor Claver; F: Sasha Pavlovic; G:
Free Agents: C: J.J. Hickson; G: Eric Maynor (restricted); F: Luke Babbitt; G:
Elliot Williams; G/F: Nolan Smith
Recent Draft History:
2012: Damian Lillard (6), Meyers Leonard (11), Will Barton (40), Tyshawn
2011: Nolan Smith (21), Jon Diebler (51)
2010: Elliot Williams (22), Armon Johnson (34)
2009: Victor Claver (22), Dante Cunningham (33), Jon Brockman (38), Patrick
2008: Brandon Rush (13), Joey Dorsey (33), Omer Asik (36), Mike Taylor (55)
Draft picks: 1st round (10th overall), 2nd round (39th, 40th and 45th overall)
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