Blazers draft: Portland should make bold trade up to No. 1, grab dream wing prospect

The Trail Blazers can shake up the draft and land a potential three-and-D superstar.
Joe Cronin, Portland Trail Blazers
Joe Cronin, Portland Trail Blazers / Soobum Im/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers could have two lottery picks to play with in the 2024 NBA Draft, which opens up some intriguing possibilities. Do they stand pat and just use both picks? Do they trade one or both to make a move up or down the board? Do they deal some draft capital for an established player?

The fact that the 2024 class is commonly considered a weak one muddies the waters even more.

So which path does Portland General Manager Joe Cronin choose? Here's one idea: Gather up some assets, make a colossal trade to acquire the No. 1 pick and take the best prospect available - one who just happens to be tailor-made for the Blazers' rebuilding roster.

Trail Blazers should trade for No. 1 pick in 2024 NBA Draft

Based on the standings as of March 8, Portland holds the No. 5 pick (its own) and the No. 14 pick (via the Golden State Warriors). Gauging the value of those picks by using previous trades, a deal to move up to No. 1 could look like this:

Blazers trade for No. 1 pick 2024 mock draft 3/8/24

Note: Because of the circumstances surrounding Portland's own first-round pick, this would need to be a draft-night deal in which the Wizards would pick for the Blazers at No. 1 and Portland would pick for Washington at 5 and 14.

The Wizards are the worst team in the NBA and have the bleakest future. They need all the assets they can get. Dropping back from No. 1 to No. 5 in a draft with no consensus top prospect and grabbing two future firsts to do it makes sense.

It's a risk for the Blazers, but adding two more rookies to a roster that already has 13 players age 25 or younger doesn't work. Why not package those picks and grab one prospect who could immediately slot into the starting lineup and potentially fill a position of need for the next decade-plus?

Trail Blazers should take Zaccharie Risacher with No. 1 pick

Zaccharie Risacher is firmly in the conversation to be the top overall selection in the 2024 draft. His skill set and potential as a high-level three-and-D wing would slide seamlessly into Portland's rebuild, and putting him alongside playmakers and shot-creators like Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons would be the ideal scenario for the 19-year-old Frenchman.

Risacher's best attributes as a prospect are positional versatility, 3-point shooting and defense. He's not the draft's most explosive athlete, but he's 6-foot-9 with a high basketball IQ and good agility, which allows him to play as a wing or forward on offense and guard potentially four positions defensively.

It's his wild shooting numbers this season, though, that have put Risacher at or near the top of every team's draft board.

In 17 EuroCup games with JL Bourg, the teenager is shooting 57 percent from the floor and knocking down 56.1 percent of his 3.4 threes per game. Across 41 games in all competitions, Risacher is shooting 44.6 percent (62-of-139) from deep:

The clip above shows off Risacher's comfortability on catch-and-shoot opportunities but also his ability to knock down threes off of screens, pin-downs, dribble handoffs or in pick-and-pop scenarios. He moves and repositions fluidly around the arc and his form is easy on the eyes.

He's a solid enough ballhandler to attack closeouts with straight-line drives and although it's not his strong suit, his length makes him a decent finisher around the rim.

The biggest concern with Risacher is his lack of shot-creation ability. At this point, he's almost exclusively an off-ball player, but he's a smart passer who can be at least a connector on offense if not a facilitator. (And inserting him into a lineup with playmaking guards makes that far less worrisome.)

Still, he'll only be 19 on draft night and is starting to show flashes of step-back and off-the-bounce shooting:

Risacher isn't a cant-miss guy, but he's a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect. With his shooting ability, length, intelligence and defensive versatility, he should settle into the NBA as a good three-and-D player. But if those step-back threes ever become a regular part of his game, his ceiling takes a significant leap.


ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony gives Risacher a Khris Middleton comp (subscription required); the Bucks forward is a three-time all-star who played a critical role in helping Milwaukee win its first NBA title in 50 years. The Blazers could do a lot worse if they choose to trade a pair of lottery picks and a well-protected future first-rounder.

Moving up to No. 1 to steal Risacher is worth the risk.