How Blazers’ free agents would mesh with Wembanyama
Jerami Grant is an unrestricted free agent; it could make sense for the Blazers to pair him with Wembanyama as the two starting forwards.
Grant isn’t a great rebounder – he averaged 4.5 rebounds last season. As a result, his more natural position may be small forward rather than the power forward position he’s typically played for the Blazers.
Grant is 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, so the Blazers would finally have excellent length on the wings to help out their smaller guards on defense.
Wembanyama is 230 pounds and likely still needs time to put on more muscle to be a true center in the NBA.
However, with him and Grant, head coach Chauncey Billups would have a lot of flexibility. Billups could play them at the four and five positions in particular matchups where the other team doesn’t have a dominant center.
Restricted free agents Matisse Thybulle and Cam Reddish would complement Wembanyama well, too, and it makes sense to bring them back in this scenario. With Thybulle and Wembanyama, Portland would have two candidates for NBA All-Defensive teams (even in Wembanyama’s rookie year).
Reddish is only 23 years old and is a good scorer off the bench. He would fit in nicely with the Blazers’ new timeline with Wembanyama. Reddish is also 6-7 and would contribute to Portland’s length on the wings.
Trendon Watford is a solid big to bring off the bench as someone that can do a little bit of everything up front. The Blazers should bring him back on his two-year team option, regardless of what happens in the lottery.
Trade the Knicks pick to Chicago?
The 2023 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 22.
The Blazers would still have the Knicks’ first-round pick to make a potential trade. One option would be to send this pick to the Chicago Bulls.
Portland still owes the Bulls a lottery-protected first-round pick from the Larry Nance Jr. trade. By sending this pick to the Bulls, the Blazers would set themselves up for the future. They would own all their upcoming draft picks, giving them much more flexibility to make a later deal.
Wembanyama would give Portland the ability to be more patient. They don’t have to make an “all-in” move and sacrifice their future to contend with Lillard. They’d be able to contend while still retaining their young assets, who they can continue to develop.
In addition, the issue of having two smaller guards in Lillard and Anfernee Simons that are defensive liabilities becomes much less of a problem with someone like Wembanyama to clean up the mess.
In this scenario, the best route might be drafting Wembanyama and trading the Knicks’ pick to Chicago. Then, the Blazers would have a fresh start going into next season with the most coveted prospect since LeBron James already on the roster.