Armed with only the No. 25 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers quietly exceeded all expectations and were a big winner on draft night.
Now that the dust has settled from Thursday night’s NBA Draft, we can properly evaluate just how well the Portland Trail Blazers‘ draft night stacked up to the rest of the league.
Some teams made bold moves to grab the missing piece in their roster like the Atlanta Hawks or Memphis Grizzlies. Other teams looked completely lost and made nonsensical decisions (looking at you Phoenix).
Thankfully the Blazers were not one of those lost and confused teams. In fact, most would agree Portland’s draft night went better than anyone could have expected. Let’s dive into their pair of acquisitions.
Nobody could have expected the freshman out of North Carolina to slip this far. At the onset of the season, Nassir Little was projected as a unanimous top five prospect. However, his stock took a significant dip due to coach Roy Williams’ policy of almost never starting freshman.
This likely shook Little’s confidence and made it incredibly difficult to establish a rhythm on the court. Regardless, he still has a wealth of potential waiting to be unlocked by the right system. Incredibly athletic and gifted with a body born to play basketball, Little presents superstar potential that isn’t often found outside the lottery.
If he pans out as planned, Little projects to be a defensive presence that covers for the defensive liability at both guard positions. Nassir could develop into an Andre Iguodala-type player, locking down the opposing team’s best player and providing a complementary skill set to the stars.
The Wake Forest product should already have an established familiarity with the Portland Trail Blazers, considering he attended a private workout with the team. Jaylen Hoard must have made a strong impression, because the Blazers immediately extended the freshman a two-way contract offer.
Hoard is a relatively unfinished project on the offensive end that offers sturdy defensive potential. His length and athletic ability make him more than worth taking a flyer on to hopefully help fill out the forward rotation in the absence of Portland’s expiring contracts next year. Although Hoard hasn’t shown the polish in his game to justify being a top-60 draft pick, his athleticism and potential make him well worth a gamble on a two-way contract. Hoard’s performance in the G League will ultimately decide his fate with the team.
If this draft was any indication of how the rest of the offseason will unfold, the Portland Trail Blazers are likely now eagerly awaiting free agency.