With the 2021 NBA draft looming, the Portland Trail Blazers will enter the night with no draft picks to their name. However, that doesn’t guarantee that Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey and co. will be completely idle on draft night.
Defense is something that Portland lacked this past season and it eventually led to their downfall in the playoffs when they were eliminated in six games to the Denver Nuggets. Fixing a defense cannot be done overnight, but adding some raw defensive talent from the draft would be beneficial and affordable for the blazers.
The blazers also may be thin at the forward position with multiple pending free agents set to make their decisions in the next coming months. Portland may opt to address a few of these holes late in the upcoming draft.
Barring a potential trade for a draft pick, here are three players that the blazers should target in the 2021 NBA draft.
Portland Trail Blazers NBA Draft 2nd round prospect #1 Herb Jones (SF/PF, Alabama)
Jones won both SEC player of the year and defensive player of the year in 2021, something that hasn’t been accomplished since Anthony Davis did so in 2012. Jones comes into the draft as one of the more experienced prospects and his defensive prowess is something Portland desperately needs.
While Jones posted modest numbers throughout his college career, the NBA potential is there coming off a senior season where he averaged 11 points as well as a block and steal per game. This could be a great addition to the blazers forward rotation if they are patient in developing Jone’s potential.
Portland Trail Blazers NBA Draft 2nd round prospect#2 Kessler Edwards (SF/PF, Pepperdine)
Edwards comes in as a versatile combo forward that can give the blazers true 3&D potential alongside guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Edwards made first-team all-WCC in 2021 and he’s increased his scoring output significantly in each of his three years at Pepperdine. Edwards has shown he can be efficient from three-point range while also filling up the stat sheet, averaging a block and steal a game to go along with 17 points per game in 2021. If Portland does decide to make a move for Edwards, they will be getting a defensive force that could make an immediate impact in the Blazers rotation.
Portland Trail Blazers NBA Draft 2nd round prospect #3 – Amar Sylla (PF, Senegal)
Sylla is a lengthy 6 foot 9 prospect with an astounding 7’2 wingspan. The 19-year old forward from Senegal comes into the draft as a natural defender while possessing above average mobility and ball-handling skills that scouts love. Sylla possesses immense raw talent at both ends of the floor, something the blazers need to capitalize on if available late in the draft.