Barring a draft day trade, the Portland Trail Blazers will not be participating in the 2021 NBA draft. The Houston Rockets obtained their first round pick as part of the Robert Covington deal, and the Memphis Grizzlies are now the fourth team to have ownership over the Blazers 2021 second round pick.
Despite not having a selection in either round, there’s still very good reason for Neil Olshey and the Blazers brass to monitor this year’s draft.
Each year, dozens of prospects hope to hear their name called on draft day, but there will only be 60 selections made. Those that aren’t selected in either round though, still have the chance to go pro, as they enter undrafted free agency once the second round comes to a close.
Can the Portland Trail Blazers mine a diamond in the rough by signing an undrafted free agent?
Duncan Robinson, Joe Ingles, Fred VanVleet, and so many more undrafted players have made a huge mark on the league. The Blazers had an undrafted gem of their own in Seth Curry, but unfortunately he played well enough to become unaffordable for Portland to retain. They’ll most likely have another notable UDFA on the roster next season if Derrick Jones Jr. picks up his player option.
The ability to find these extraordinary steals, players who will come into the league with the biggest chip on their shoulder, and signing them for minimal contracts is the exact type of move in the trenches that can push a team over the top.
The Miami Heat, with the help of two UDFA in Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, shattered expectations in 2019-2020 and wound up in the NBA Finals with two rookies, who weren’t even drafted, playing big roles.
With the Blazers most likely capped-out entering free agency and with zero selections in the 2021 NBA draft, Olshey and the front office will need a stroke of brilliance, and frankly incredible luck, to take this roster to true contender status without swinging a major deal.
Let’s take a look at some prospects that could go undrafted and potentially be a major bolster for the Portland Trail Blazers: