As the dust settled, the loud rumbling you may have heard around the Pacific Northwest was the collective roar of the Portland Trail Blazers fan base after being awarded the third overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Now that the team is in possession of a top draft pick, it’s time to figure out which draft prospect would be the best fit for the team.
Rumors have already sprung up that the Blazers will look to trade this pick in a package to bring an All-Star-caliber player to Portland to pair with Damian Lillard. Still, conflicting reports have also emerged that the team would be happy to stick with the third pick and take the best player available.
If Portland decides to keep the draft pick, either because the trade options other teams are throwing out are insufficient or because the front office falls in love with a particular prospect, here are the six players that would be best fits for the Blazers from both a value and roster construction perspective.
No. 6: Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
On a number of draft boards, Amen Thompson ranks as a top-tier lottery prospect. He has some of the best athletic tools in the draft class, makes some of the spiciest passing reads while going full speed, and has enough upside for teams to reasonably talk themselves into him becoming an All-Star- or All-NBA-level player.
So why is he arguably the worst fit for the Blazers at this pick?
It comes down to his fit with the roster – even if more moves are made before the end of the offseason. Thompson’s strengths as a player are all accentuated by being a lead ball-handler, while his weakness as a shooter can be more heavily exploited if confined to an off-ball role:
On a Blazers team that, barring a trade, would trot out a starting lineup of Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Thompson, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic, Thompson would be forced out of the necessary ball-handling roles he needs for his development and would be a negative floor spacer for a team that desperately needs more shooting.
Thus, unless a major change in personnel is on the horizon for the Blazers to open up minutes and touches for Thompson at the lead guard position, it’s hard to see him as the best fit for Portland to contend in the short-term or long-term with how its team is currently constructed.