The Draft Dilemma

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 30: Projected first round NBA draft pick Patrick Patterson attends Barnstable Brown at the 136th Kentucky Derby on April 30, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)

Patrick Patterson...hearing you guys don't know who to pick. Wanna know why you should pick me? I was at the Barnstable Brown party this year. Google it. (Credit: YardBarker.com)

Sunday June 20th 2010 marks the official beginning to Draft Week. Due to the parity of the players involved, there is a certain sense of uncertainty surrounding Thursday’s event. In Blazer Nation there is a weird aura surrounding this year’s draft. It’s almost like a ‘calm before the storm’…except with anxiety, a pinch of excitement and some healthy doses of speculation. For the life of me it just does not feel like there has been a lot of focus on what the Blazers will do on Thursday night. The Blazers off-season has been more about the Eternal Sunshine of Prichard’s Mind than about personnel decisions.

In Portland, for the first time in recent years, the Draft is almost an after-thought. True, it’s tough to compete with years where the team had lottery picks or it was widely known they were attempting to move up. Not to mention the fact that the Blazers roster is loaded like a college freshman’s pantry after their parents come to town. Simply put the outside storylines are overpowering the draft itself. We have heard non-stop about the bristles that KP will be canned shortly after the draft…and word that he is looking to go out with a major bang. Does that mean a draft-day deal? Is Portland moving up? There is no clear cut solution except to hold on to your seat. Why? Because every year since he has been GM, Pritchard has lived for the draft…and it has proven to be his time to shine. With his job on the line, you can only imagine what could go down.

The key word there being “could”. The only thing we do know, for now, is that Portland is scheduled to have the 22nd selection in the 1st Round. 2010 is not a year where Portland is needing to get into the lottery or move up to acquire a key piece. They can afford to draft a project without all hell breaking loose. However, a major wrench in Portland’s draft is their own depth. It’s much easier to draft a player when you have a distinct need. In Portland, there is not really a need for a specific position, more a skill set. People argue about adding depth at PG. I ask, who in this draft at the #22 spot is an upgrade over Bayless? People argue for a shooter, and they have a valid point. However with KP’s second-round trickery there is no need to reach at #22. Portland could always find a cheap option in the 2nd round or even in free agency. Also, considering the already present log-jam on the perimeter, how much sense would it make to add another guy to the mix?

All of that brings us to the big question heading into this draft: Is there a need for a big man? If you’re asking me yes and no. Numbers wise…not really. Portland has 7 ‘bigs’ on the roster and all have shown they can contribute. It truly all depends on how good you (and Blazers management) think Cunningham and Pendergraph can be. Do you think they can grow? If so, you probably don’t see the need for a PF. If you think they (along with Juwan Howard) were a good temporary stop-gap this year, but ultimately not the solution…than you see the need for an upgrade. Drafting a center is a different equation, one that makes much more sense. Drafting a big man would make sense, to groom him for when Marcus Camby hangs his backward high fives up. With the future of Joel Przybilla up in the air, going in that direction seems smart.

Whether you agree or disagree, like it or not, all signs arepointing to Portland drafting a big man. Nearly every mock draft on the net has Portland drafting a 4 or a 5. The question is, which one would fit? After researching mock drafts and using my oh so powerful noggin, I narrowed it down to the following big men: Patrick Patterson, Larry Sanders, Hassan Whiteside, Craig Brackins and Solomon Alabi. I refuse to even mention the words Kevin Seraphin because the Blazers would be foolish to stash another player overseas. And foolish to pass up on NBA-ready talent again *ahem*CLAVEROVERBLAIR*ahem*.

(More on the prospects above after the jump)

  • Patrick Patterson: Patterson had been attached to the Blazers hip in Chad Ford’s Mock Draft up until this week. We have him going to Portland in our own Mock Draft. The big question about Patterson is not if Portland will take him, but will he be around at #22? Most mock drafts have placed him back in the lottery, but he could go anywhere between 9-22. Patterson’s biggest asset is his ability to contribute from Day 1. There is no need to worry about ‘potential’ or ‘upside’ — he’s ready to go. He has a big, physical body, he’s long and athletic. He would give Portland a toughness on the interior. He also brings a good character element to the table. Last season at Kentucky, Patterson willingly took a backseat to freshmen DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall. He should be able to easily fit into an NBA team from the get-go…on and and off the court.
  • Larry Sanders: Chad Ford in his initial Mock Draft had Sanders going to Portland. On paper, it would make sense because the Blazers’ depth would allow Sanders to develop over time. Unlike Patterson, he is raw and not exactly NBA-ready. What he lacks in readiness he makes up in the athleticism department. He’s got a long wingspan and is a great athlete which has come off as very impressive in workouts. From his workout with the Raptors, check out the following quote (courtesy of RaptorsHQ): ” I’m a very energetic player, I love playing defense, and that’s where I give most of my energy at…and that’s basically my game.” I could imagine him coming off the bench with energy looking to block shots and run out for dunks. However, the energy/defense things sounds like Cunningham/Pendergraph territory. The question becomes, would Portland draft Sanders in the first round when they have two cheap options they are currently developing? I doubt it.
  • Solomon Alabi: A lot of people are high on Alabi, including the Blazers. It’s not hard to see why: he’s an athletic 7-1 big man with a crazy wingspan. That kind of skill-set is going to get a lot of hard looks from GMs across the league. Not only that, but his instincts when it comes to blocking shots has probably made grown men drool. His ability to protect the paint could really help Portland. In addition to that, Alabi can also bring energy and runs the floor well. It’s easy to imagine him as insurance after Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla are no longer around. The problem is not him being a project or raw, it’s will he be available at #22. With saavy-ran teams like Boston, Oklahoma City and San Antonio picking ahead of Portland it seems like he may be gone. I also don’t know if he’s the type of player you trade up for. Maybe that’s because when I see him I have nightmares of Mohammed Saer Sene *shudder*.
  • Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside is another that gets a checkbox in the project category. He’s athletic, long and 7 feet tall. He brings speed and an ability to leap quickly to the table. Overall he’s more talented than Sanders, and if you don’t think so just ask him. In workouts he’s impressed with his motor and shown glimpses of what he could become in time. Chad Ford currently has Whiteside going to the Blazers at #22. He averaged 5.3 blocks last year so drafting him and making him Marcus Camby Jr for a couple of years is not a bad idea. Although, I’m not too sure Whiteside would like the idea of being Marcus Camby Jr. because when people compared the two he had this to say: “Naw, I don’t think Marcus Camby can shoot, doesn’t have the stroke like I’ve got.” The kid has swagger.
  • Craig Brackins: He’s currently #30 in our Mock Draft (had to fight for that one) and no one seems to talk about the big man from Iowa State. Except for Ben from Blazer’s Edge who had the following to say

Brackins, a power forward from Iowa State, got rave reviews.  He fits a number of the criteria the team appears to be looking for: NBA readiness, very impressive size and strength, ability to shoot and high character, among others. I’ll release this year’s draft prospect board on Monday or Tuesday and Brackins will sit in poll position.

People tend to forget that at one point in time Brackins was considered a lottery talent. That was after his sophomore campaign, when he averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds and was an honorable mention All-American. His biggest assets are his overall ability on the offensive end and his versatility. He can score inside and out and in many different ways. It’s easy to fall in love with his overall talent and he could be a steal at #22 or lower. However, take this quote from Kansas coach Bill Self about Brackins:

Self also pointed out that Brackins would have to adapt to certain things on the interior if he hopes to have a long career on someone’s NBA frontline.

“He’s not a physical player,” Self added.

I don’t blame you if you’re having visions, or nightmares of Channing Frye. Would he be too redundant to LaMarcus Aldridge? Or would it be foolish to pass up that kind of talent?

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Tags: Blazers Big Man Blazers Draft Blazers Draft 2010 Craig Brackins Hassan Whiteside Larry Sanders Nba Draft 2010 Nba Draft Portland Patrick Patterson Portland Draft 2010 Portland Trail Blazers Solomon Alabi

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