Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, there’s a chance the Portland Trail Blazers end up with a top-14 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
But with Damian Lillard leading the way and some legitimate young talent playing alongside him, there’s also a chance that pick ends up falling in the late lottery rather than closer to the top five.
Heading into the final portion of the regular season, Portland has 2.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection and a 3.4 percent chance of ending up in the top four, according to Tankathon.
Comparatively, the Blazers have a 65.9 percent chance at grabbing pick No. 10. Their average selection spot based on the NBA standings as of Feb. 21 is 9.4.
So, at least before the final 24 games are played, Portland’s pick is indeed expected to land later in the lottery.
Which prospects could potentially be available at that point? And which ones would fit with the rest of the Blazers roster? (Hint: three-and-D wings and athletic big men.)
In no particular order, here are brief scouting reports on five options.
(Measurables and statistics as of Feb. 21.)
Jett Howard, freshman, Michigan
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, 19.7 years old
Statistics: 14.4 points per game, 36.9 percent shooting from three on 7.2 attempts per game
Howard – the son of former NBA star and current Michigan head coach Juwan Howard – has proven to be a legitimate scorer and knock-down 3-point threat in maybe the most competitive conference in college basketball.
Coming from that basketball background, he has a good feel for the game and what’s going on around him. That makes him a decent playmaker who’s averaging nearly 3 assists per game.
He’s not a lockdown defender but he does have a high motor, so with the right coaching could turn into a decent player on that end of the floor at the NBA level. And at 215 pounds – thicker than most of the other wing prospects in this year’s class – has the size to compete with bigger players.
Howard’s most polished skills lie on the offensive end, which isn’t necessarily what the Blazers need. But adding a young, potential three-and-D wing who knows the game wouldn’t be a bad fit in any situation.