June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Meyers Leonard (Illinois) heads up to the stage after being introduced as the number eleven overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Rapid Reaction: Portland Trail Blazers Take Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard in 2012 NBA Draft

June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Damian Lillard (Weber State), right, is introduced as the number six overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers by NBA commissioner David Stern during the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The glaring holes at PG and C, for Rip City, have finally been filled

The Portland Trail Blazers selected Damian Lillard with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and followed up by selecting Meyers Leonard at No. 11, effectively dissipating their team needs going into the off-season.

Portland acquired the No. 6 overall pick in a trade deadline deal that sent Gerald Wallace to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for their top-3 protected first-round pick in this year’s drafted.

The point guard out of Weber State and an Oakland, CA. native, Lillard was second in college basketball in scoring (24.5 PPG) and is seen as a godsend for the Blazers, who desperately needed production and leadership from his position.

Leonard, the 7’1″ big man out of Illinois, is a shot blocking aficionado and has potential through the roof to be the Blazers’ long-term center of the future.

The newest members of the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard and Leonard will join forces with All-Star PF, LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as wing sharp-shooters Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews to build a solid foundation for the foreseeable future.

Expected to come out as the Blazers’ starting PG, Lillard will have to learn to run the pick-and-roll with L.A., something he didn’t do much of at Weber State. He brings deadly range and quickness to the Portland offense, and has potential to be a solid defender with the right development.

Leonard, who is viewed as more of a project, will look to fill the void that Greg Oden left with his explosive athleticism and shot-blocking prowess. Portland will have to develop him — and hopefully that development process doesn’t include a fractured patella (cough, cough: Joel Przybilla) or arthroscopic knee surgery (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Marcus Camby Camby.. take your pick) — but he could easily become a very serviceable, enforcing big for the Blazers down the road.

GM Neil Olshey has already left his mark on the Portland Trail Blazer roster, selecting quality talent in the lottery. And with the cap space that the team is headed into the off-season with, we could very well see Rip City back into the Playoff picture next season.



Tags: 2012 Nba Draft Damian Lillard Meyers Leonard Neil Olshey Portland Trail Blazers

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