2. C Daniel Gafford
Enter Gafford, who can take over for Nurk if general manager Joe Cronin is able to find a suitable trade partner, or play significant minutes if Nurkic stays and gets bumped toward more of a bench role by head coach Chauncey Billups.
Similar to Wright, Gafford is undervalued but would give the Blazers exactly what they need – a center who can defend the rim, rebound, and give just enough offensively as a pick-and-roll partner for Lillard, but do all of it at a higher level than Nurkic.
The 6-foot-10, 234-pound Gafford is only 24 years old and is coming off a season in which he averaged 9.0 points (on a wildly efficient 73.2 percent shooting), 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks for the Wizards. Not eye-popping numbers, but he did it in only 20.6 minutes per game.
Per 36-minutes, those numbers jump to 15.8 points, 9. 7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks.
Almost half of Gafford’s rebounds – 49.4 percent – were contested rebounds, meaning the boards he grabbed were within 3.5 feet of an opposing player. He knows how to use his body to box out and has great timing.
A 6-10 center who can rebound, defend the rim and move his feet (and makes $3-4 million less per year) would provide a significant boost to Portland’s defense.