University of Oregon senior, Arsalan Kazemi, experienced his first ever pre-draft workout yesterday, for the Los Angeles Lakers. The 6’7” power forward led the Ducks to the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA tournament, but is not expected to be drafted in the first round. In fact, until recently he was anticipated by many to go undrafted entirely. However; it appears that Arsalan has a good chance to play at the professional level after shining on the national stage.
So would Arsalan Kazemi fit with the Blazers? He has contributed very little offensively in his collegiate career, but Portland isn’t necessarily looking for a scorer. Kazemi shows excellent defensive awareness and anticipatory skills in the paint, ranking 3rd in the NCAA for steals per game. That’s great news for any team interested in the undersized big man. He is also a prolific rebounder.
Considering that Portland will most likely be without J.J. Hickson, perhaps Kazemi wouldn’t be a bad pickup to shore up their presence on the glass. The Blazers possess 3 second round picks this year and will be looking for role players, especially on defense. If selected, Kazemi would likely back up LaMarcus Aldridge or be pushed to the small forward position. He is not big enough to take over Hickson’s duties at center, but we wouldn’t want him to anyway. With his athleticism and potential, Arsalan Kazemi could be the pleasant surprise for Portland that Festus Ezeli was for Golden State.
Of course, this depends on if he can peek the Blazers’ curiosity. As it stands, all 3 of Portland’s second round picks are ahead of Los Angeles’, so if Olshey decides that Kazemi is worth a look, we could potentially steal him away. Although, the pre-draft process has just begun and it is possible that other callers may check him out and get to him first.
Either way, the 10 points and 15 rebounds he averaged during March Madness was enough to turn some important heads. It is always nice to see our Northwest college athletes reach the professional level. The only active University of Oregon players in the NBA are Ivan Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks, Aaron Brooks of the Houston Rockets, and Luke Ridnour of the Minnesota Timberwolves; I am eager to see another join the ranks. As a U of O grad, myself, I went undrafted due to shoulder injury, as well as the general lack of skill, height, experience, and potential.
It would behoove the Blazers to give Kazemi an extended look while they determine what to do with their draft picks. As long as they’re trying to build a strong, defensive secondary, it might be worth it to give him a chance. Wait to see if they call him in for a pre-draft workout. They may just save a spot for him.