Portland Trail Blazers’ 2023 NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

Victor Wembanyama, Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images) /
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The end is nigh for the Portland Trail Blazers, at least in terms of the 2022-23 NBA season.

Honestly, it might be a relief when it’s over. No more painful losses and 30 minutes of Skylar Mays running the point. Nothing against Skylar, but it’s not the most enjoyable basketball to watch when journeymen that a good chunk of fans have probably never heard of are on the floor rather than Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, or Jerami Grant.

Besides, the end of the year brings the most fun part of the NBA calendar, anyway: the offseason.

Fans and league insiders can speculate about free agency, blockbuster trades and, perhaps most enjoyable and most importantly, the draft.

As it stands, the Blazers have three picks in 2023 – two in the first round and one in the second. With four games remaining in the regular season, Portland has a hold on the fifth-best lottery odds, according to Tankathon.

The first-rounder the Trail Blazers got from the New York Knicks in the Josh Hart trade is currently slated as the 23rd pick of the opening round, and Portland has the 44th overall pick, a selection the franchise acquired from the Atlanta Hawks.

So it’s time to put together what should be the Blazers Big Board. This isn’t a best player available list.

Portland’s most significant need is size – whether that’s an interior big man who can protect the rim and set screens for Lillard and Simons, one that can add spacing and scoring to the offense, or simply depth behind Jusuf Nurkic, coming out of the draft bigger is a must for the Blazers.

Other needs include defense, floor spacing, additional scoring options, and depth behind Dame and Simons in the backcourt.

With that said, here are the prospects, ranked 10 to 1, that should top Portland’s list heading toward the draft (as of March 4).

Honorable mention:

A few prospects that just missed the top 10 but might appear here as the draft process goes on or could be available when Portland’s second pick comes up in the 20s (in no particular order):

Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite; Rayan Rupert, New Zealand Breakers; Kris Murray, Iowa; Sidy Cissoko, G League Ignite; Jett Howard, Michigan; Dariq Whitehead, Duke; Julian Phillips, Tennessee; James Nnaji, Barcelona; Colby Jones, Xavier

10. Taylor Hendricks, Central Florida

Hendricks is a 6-foot-9 freshman wing who plays bigger than his listed size, albeit against small-school competition. He projects as the ideal four in today’s NBA but has some experience playing small-ball center, as well.

He’s a versatile on-ball defender who uses his size and athleticism well, but he’s agile enough to be able to switch screens and strong enough to battle with bigger players. He can guard up and down the lineup, from two-guards to power forward and possibly centers, depending on the right matchup.

Offensively, Hendricks has shown himself to be a decent scorer and shooter who does the complimentary things needed to keep the ball moving and an offense humming, which would fit in Portland next to Lillard.

He’s hit better than 39 percent of his 4.6 threes per game this year at UCF, which would make him a perfect pick-and-pop threat who could space the floor. He’s strong enough and athletic enough to be a solid rim-runner in those situations as well.