Draft grades: Portland Trail Blazers


Mar 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Travis Releford (left) and center Jeff Withey (right) run onto the court prior to the semifinal game against the Michigan Wolverines in the South regional of the 2013 NCAA Tournament at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers did very well for themselves in this year’s draft, and I’m not just saying that as a Blazer fan. They made the correct moves at every possible corner and came away with some diamonds in the rough. There is good reason to be excited for the future of the Blazers, and good cause to put your faith in Neil Olshey as the Blazers transition into free agency (July 1st).

Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) shakes hands with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum: B+
Pick number: 10
Position: Point Guard
Was he the best player available?: Yes
Does he fill an immediate need?: No
Does he have any injuries: Yes

McCollum was the right choice. It is always, and I mean ALWAYS, better to draft talent over need in the NBA (watch Cleveland kick themselves in about a year for taking Bennett #1). McCollum is instant offense and a talented scorer. His presence in Rip City also means that current reserve point guard, Eric Maynor, will not receive a qualifying offer, freeing up cash for the Blazers to spend in free agency. However; McCollum’s broken foot concerns me. For a player who’s biggest advantage is a quick first step, a major foot injury is not at all ideal. Fortunately, it is unlikely to hold him back. If CJ develops well in the NBA, Portland will have a dangerous backcourt for years to come.

Mar 21, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; California Golden Bears guard Allen Crabbe (23) watches as guard Justin Cobbs (not pictured) misses a free throw against the UNLV Rebels during the second half of the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at HP Pavilion. The California Golden Bears defeated the UNLV Rebels 64-61. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Allen Crabbe: B+
Pick number: 31
Position: Shooting Guard
Was he the best player available?: Yes
Does he fill an immediate need?: Sort of
Does he have any injuries?: No

Crabbe’s value is amplified by where the Blazers got him in the draft. The 31st pick is extra valuable because it is the #1 pick of non-guaranteed players. The Blazers managed to snag Crabbe from Cleveland for two future 2nd rounders (a reasonable steal). Not only that, Crabbe was projected to go in the mid-20’s, so the Blazers got first round value for just two future picks. As for Crabbe’s game, he is a tremendous shooter and should be ready to contribute right away off the bench. He is, however, a sub-par ball handler, so his offensive value, while high, is somewhat stunted. Still, his slide and Portland’s swoop make him a perfect pick in the 2nd round.

Mar 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey (5) reacts after a score with teammate Elijah Johnson (15) against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half during the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Withey: A+
Pick number: 39
Position: Center
Was he the best player available?: No
Does he fill an immediate need?: Yes
Does he have any injuries?: No

I love this selection. Though he was not the best player available (San Diego State shooting guard, Jamaal Franklin, slid all the way to 41), he is just what the Blazers need; a strong defensive center. Withey was projected by some to go late in the first round after averaging nearly 4 blocks a game as a Kansas senior, but the Blazers stole him all the way down at 39th. Having spent 4 years in college, Withey is NBA ready and could contribute to solving Portland’s interior defense problems right away (though they should still look for free agents). He was my sleeper pick to do better than projected this year, and I couldn’t be happier that he landed in Portland.

Marko Todorovic: C
Pick number: 45
Position: Center
Was he the best player available?: No
Does he fill an immediate need?: No
Does he have any injuries?: No

I’ll keep this short since we won’t be seeing Todorovic in a Blazer jersey any time soon. He was a stash pick. Basically, the Blazers got all the value they could out of this year’s draft and decided that rather than bringing a probable non-contributor on board, they could save money by drafting a foreign player to keep elsewhere for the time being. I like this call, as the Blazers need to focus on free agency next and will need as much cash as possible to pursue the right players.

Player Specs

CJ McCollumPoint guard6’3”197 lbs
Allen CrabbeShooting guard6’6”197 lbs
Jeff WitheyCenter7’0”235 lbs
Marko TodorovicCenter6’11”240 lbs

***The Blazers also drafted University of Arizona forward, Grant Jerrett, with the 40th pick, but traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash considerations.

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