Draft Mistake #3: Drafting Caleb Swanigan
This section is particularly painful because Swanigan didn’t pan out in the league, but mostly because he unfortunately passed away a few years ago. It’s hard to deal with any former player passing away, but the loss of Swanigan is especially painful.
Coming out of Purdue, Swanigan had some obvious warts as a basketball player, but he was universally loved for his intangibles and had knacks for rebounding, passing, and interior scoring that few could match, along with a great reputation as a teammate.
When putting this pick under the microscope, however, it makes less and less sense that the team chose Swanigan. They’d just drafted Collins, settling the starting power forward spot. They still had Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh as depth pieces at the four, which sent Swanigan to the end of the bench.
While he may have been an upside swing, it still doesn’t make sense not to try to target a wing, given it was more of a position of need at the time. None of Mo Harkless, Turner, nor Aminu should’ve precluded that.
The Blazers could’ve targeted Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, or even former Oregon Duck Dillon Brooks at the end of the first round.
Taking one of these players even after the selection of Collins would’ve made more sense from a roster-building perspective around their guard tandem of Dame and CJ. Instead, the doubling down on power forwards serves as a befuddling reminder of the ineptitude of the Olshey organization.
Who knows what could’ve happened had the Blazers taken any of Mitchell, Adebayo, John Collins, Anunoby, Kuzma, or Hart. Maybe they would’ve suffered the same fate of a single playoff run.
Maybe, however, a better management of draft picks and roster creation could’ve not only given the Blazers a better team, but made them good enough to challenge the waning dynasty of the Golden State Warriors.