The Portland Trail Blazers have only selected three players in the first round of the draft since 2014, all of which were in the late 20s. The Blazers do have control of all their first round picks moving forward, aside from this year’s which was traded to the Houston Rockets as part of the deal that landed Portland Robert Covington.
In an important offseason with the future up in the air, Portland may feel the need to trade back into the first round of this year’s draft. As a likely capped-out team in 2021-2022, the Blazers may find it smart to trade for an impactful role player on a rookie deal.
This year’s crop of prospects has a decent group of potential franchise pieces in Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs, but there are a number of candidates that project to be solid role players that could go in the late lottery.
Is trading back into the draft a smart move for the Portland Trail Blazers?
Portland has an exceptional starting group that is capable of competing against any other lineup in the NBA. The holes in their roster lie on the bench, a group that only had two players trusted with consistent playoff minutes in Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons; the former being a player who will enter his 19th season in the NBA next year.
Perhaps Nassir Little will grow into the backup wing the Blazers need next season. And maybe the Blazers find reliable backups at point guard and center using their veteran minimum contracts. And possibly they find a veteran gem to add to the roster using their mid-level exception. Then, they could construct a solid bench that could narrow deficits or grow leads, but that’s a lot of uncertainty.
Rather than betting their future on the crapshoot that is NBA free agency, maybe the Blazers should take the reins and trade back into the first round of the 2021 NBA draft and grab a player who can contribute right away.
Here are three prospects worth trading back into the draft for: