The Portland Trail Blazers have had a significant jumpstart to prepare for the 2022 NBA Draft — an advantage they sorely needed considering they might wind up with two lottery selections — likely tinkering with their big board since Damian Lillard went out in January.
There are plenty of holes in the roster for Interim General Manager Joe Cronin to fill, and the draft presents him with an opportunity to round out the depth chart with high-end talent on rookie-scale deals. This will be crucial for the Trail Blazers’ salary cap table as Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons will need new contracts this summer, and Nassir Little will be following along shortly after.
While this season has been a disaster, the timing for the Blazers’ mini reset couldn’t have come at a better time. Portland’s biggest need for next season figures to be a starting-level, two-way forward. This draft class happens to be loaded at that position, especially at power forward, so the Trail Blazers should be able to secure their four of the future in the coming months.
Portland Trail Blazers 2022 NBA Draft Big Board – Top 3
Some might say that the first edition of my big board is coming at a peculiar time, right after the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. Other pieces of this ilk are usually released before March Madness tips off or right after the conclusion of the tourney — with some publications editing the big board as the teams progress further into the gauntlet.
However, while March Madness is undoubtedly the best showcase of future NBA talent available, it usually turns out to be a poor predictor of how prospects will perform in the pros. I’ll still likely do a post-tourney edition, although there’s a strong chance that the rankings won’t change from the few remaining games.
Please keep in mind that this is a Portland Trail Blazers-specific big board. With Lillard square in the thick of his prime, team fit and position play larger roles than they should for squads less ready to compete.