From the look of things, there’s a strong possibility that the Portland Trail Blazers utilize their two lottery picks in the 2012 NBA Draft to permanently fix their back-court issues.
While Connecticut center, Andre Drummond, is in the mix for their sixth pick, all the hype has been around Weber State guard, Damian Lillard, whose been amazing thus far in his pre-draft workouts. And with the Blazers eleventh pick, the two popular names flirting around have been Syracuse’s Dion Waiters and one-and-done Duke guard, Austin Rivers.
If Portland does, indeed, fail to address their need for a big man in the draft, how will they fill the gap for next season?
LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t exactly an enforcer like they needed Greg Oden to be, and Joel Przybilla is more prone to injury than a butterfly. Kurt Thomas is approaching senior citizen status, and though the team came out on the winning end of the arbitrator’s Bird Rights decision, J.J. Hickson at 6’9″ isn’t your dominating defensive big man of the future, either.
That leaves free agency for the Blazers to address their biggest need going forward.
Here’s a few viable big men that Portland could pursue this off-season:
Omer Asik: 14.7 MPG, 3.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 BLKPG
Asik doesn’t have the monstrous stats we’d want to see a starting center for the Blazers put up, but there’s a reason coach Tom Thibodeau finishes games with him in the lineup.
He plays hard and he gives his all for the entire game.
Asik is a great rim protector and was eighth in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes (3.36). The New York Daily News reported that the Bulls are trying to keep him and F Taj Gibson around, so the Blazers are going to have to offer, and offer big, if they want to land the Turkish big man.
Greg Stiemsma: 13.9 MPG, 2.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.5 BLKPG
Stiemsma played great off the bench for Doc Rivers, and was second in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes with 5.33. He’d likely come off the bench for Pryzbilla, but could easily become Portland’s starter with a few weeks of great play.
If the Blazers could land Greg Stiemsma, he would become a legitimate starting center in about three years, making him the perfect fit for their big man of the future.
Jermaine O’neal: 22.8 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.7 BLKPG
It wouldn’t be too farfetched for J.O. to make one last stand with the team that drafted him, would it?
If the Blazers opt to go with a veteran big, Jermaine O’neal is their guy. He’s a defensive big man that can step out to about 15 feet to knock down a jumper, and he’s got a soft touch around the rim. Portland could snag him for the veteran’s minimum and make him part of a three-center trio.
Whichever route the Portland Trail Blazers decide to jog down, there’s viable answers for them at the end of each trail. Should they decide to pick up Drummond in the first round, they could address their hole at PG with the eleventh pick or choose from a plethora of options in the free agency.
The only thing that’s for certain is that Neil Olshey’s got a lot of work to do, and he’s got to get to it now.