Negative No. 1: No Victor Wembanyama
The suspense was killing when it became clear the Blazers were one of the final three teams remaining in the NBA Draft Lottery. While the third pick is still exciting, the expected No. 1 overall pick, Wembanyama, is a generational talent and on a draft tier of his own.
To make matters worse, the Blazers were one number away on the final lottery ball from ending up with the first pick.
The Blazers could have solved many issues and questions going into this offseason by having the No. 1 pick and Wembanyama without having to make a significant move. They could have continued with their confusing franchise direction, which has been to contend while rebuilding yet consequently doing neither.
Wembanyama is talented to the point where they could have contended with him and Lillard in the short term. In the future, Portland also could have retooled around Wembanyama as the franchise player. With him, it wasn’t an either-or scenario.
However, now that the Blazers missed out on the French super prospect, they will still have to decide what direction to take the franchise this offseason.
Should they build around Lillard or the third pick? Now that Wembanyama is out of the picture, it’s increasingly likely that Portland will move one of these significant trade assets.
Positive No. 2: Blazers get within the second tier of prospects
There’s a clear-cut second tier of prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft behind Wembanyama. Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller are the two players behind him that are widely expected to be selected second and third, in some order.
Henderson is an athletic 6-foot-2, 19-year-old point guard from the NBA G League Ignite. He averaged 16.5 points, 6.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals on 43/28/76 shooting splits last season.
Miller is a 6-foot-9, 20-year-old freshman forward from Alabama who is a great two-way player. Last season, he averaged 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.9 steals on 43/38/86 shooting splits.
It’s great that the Blazers landed the third pick and can either have their choice of what’s available between Henderson and Miller. If they decide to trade the pick, it will be more valuable as a trade asset, too, now that teams know they can land one of these coveted prospects.