Yesterday’s NBA Draft was quite the eventful one. In what was a bit of a shocker, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett went first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and your Portland Trail Blazers saw Lehigh guard CJ McCollum fall to them with the tenth pick. That was just part of what had to be considered quite a hectic first round, and yet many teams came out of the first round satisfied, most likely including Portland.
When the first round ended and Adam Silver replaced David Stern to announce the second round picks (gee, that’s symbolic), the Blazers still had three picks at their disposal: #39, #40 and #45. Safe to say, the Blazers were expecting to pick up quite a few prospects to join McCollum.
As the draft played out, they did just that. When it was all done and over with, the Blazers left the draft with three additional rookies from the second round: California guard Allen Crabbe, Kansas center Jeff Withey, and Montenegrin forward-center Marko Todorovic.
However, the first selection they made wasn’t with their own 39th pick. Immediately, the Blazers swooped in to nab the first pick of the second round, 31st overall, from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for two future second-rounders. They used this pick to draft Allen Crabbe, one of the better three-point specialists in the draft. Crabbe was projected to go in the late first round but slid to the second round, and the Blazers didn’t hesitate to make a quick move and draft the guy they wanted.
Crabbe is only 21, but because he already does the one thing he’s counted on for extremely well (three-point shooting), he could be able to produce immediately for Portland. CJ McCollum will likely play the majority of backcourt minutes off of the bench, but Crabbe has a chance to earn some decent minutes as well. Portland already has a bunch of three-point shooters on their team, but with their bench in the state it’s in, they won’t be too picky in adding helpful role players.
Next was the 39th pick, where Portland took another prospect that had seemed to slip a little bit: Kansas center Jeff Withey. They drafted Meyers Leonard 11th overall last season, but after a rookie season that wasn’t necessarily promising, the Blazers decided to take some insurance in the second round.
Withey is already 23, meaning he might not develop too much more as a player, but on the flip side, he’s more NBA ready than a lot of other prospects because of his extensive college hoops experience. Withey is primarily a defensive center with a great knack for blocking shots, and while he isn’t anything special, he could come in and produce in the case that Leonard fails to continue to progress (or regresses) and Portland prematurely closes the curtains on him.
The next pick was the 40th pick, and the Trail Blazers selected Arizona big man Grant Jerrett. However, he was quickly flipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash considerations. No doubt, the Blazers were hesitant to bring more than three rookies on to the roster, and for good reason considering that their roster is plenty young already.
That said, the Blazers didn’t trade or sell their fourth and final draft pick, the 45th pick. They kept this one, but drafted Montenegrin big man Marko Todorovic. Todorovic’s appeal as a player lies in his size combined with his agility and skill level. He moves well despite a sturdy 6’11″, 240 lbs build, and matches that mobility with a nicely developing finesse scoring game.
Portland’s decision to draft Todorovic was made largely so that the Blazers could have another young asset that they won’t have to deal with on the roster right away. Todorovic, though already 21, is still in need of further development, and that can be done overseas. The Blazers don’t have to carry a fourth rookie on the roster, but they still get a young guy with decent upside to develop.
So, the Blazers came away from this draft with their big name pick of McCollum, followed by the noticeably quieter picks of a shooter, an interior defender, and an international prospect as well as some cash considerations courtesy of the Thunder.
Crabbe, Withey and Todorovic aren’t close to CJ McCollum’s level, but with the latter two, both are players that had dropped a bit in the draft. Both Crabbe and Withey were considered likely and possible first round prospects respectively, and the Blazers were able to net some good value picks in hopes of them being able to contribute off of the bench. Todorovic contrasts them nicely as a simple stash-and-develop pick for the future.
None of the second round picks are guaranteed to make contributions to the Blazers right away or ever, and second round picks don’t always face good odds of doing so. However; Portland’s second round picks were pretty well-regarded as far as second round picks go, and the players they chose fit in nicely to fill out the bottom of their roster (minus Todorovic, who fits in nicely as a player they don’t have to add to their roster) and develop.
Time will tell us how they fare with the Blazers and in the NBA, but for now, Blazer fans can be plenty satisfied with their second round haul: Allen Crabbe, Jeff Withey, Marko Todorovic and cash considerations. Not bad at all.