Did Joe Cronin, Chauncey Billups just reveal Trail Blazers' 2024 NBA draft plans?

Sounds like Portland is targeting a specific archetype.
Chauncey Billups (left), Scoot Henderson; Portland Trail Blazers
Chauncey Billups (left), Scoot Henderson; Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

The NBA draft is the most critical roster construction tool rebuilding franchises have at their disposal. Ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, which just became the youngest team in league history to clinch a No. 1 seed with an almost entirely homegrown group. That's the model the Portland Trail Blazers (and every other refurbishing organization) aim for.

The process is relatively simple, even if it's ugly: Lose a ton of games, land a high draft pick, select the right player. Rip City has the first two steps perfected after the past few seasons, and with Shaedon Sharpe in 2022 and Scoot Henderson in 2023, seems to be in the right ballpark on the third.

But a group that just finished with the worst record in the Western Conference clearly still has some work to do. The Trail Blazers have four picks in this year's draft, two (likely) lottery selections and two early second-round selections. So how do they use their assets to get what they need? It appears general manager Joe Cronin and head coach Chauncey Billups already have a plan.

Trail Blazers 2024 NBA Draft strategy revealed?

Cronin, Billups and multiple players held their end-of-season exit interviews yesterday. Most of the questions and answers were benign, but a few comments from Portland's GM and Head Coach hinted at the direction the organization might take in this summer's draft.

Per Danny Marang on X, Cronin couldn't have been more blatant about what he wanted to add to the roster this offseason, saying in part:

"I think this year there were some flaws in the roster that made it complicated for those guys to develop. We need more shooting, more playmaking - how do we supplement that group? How do we keep growing our talent?"

Portland Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin

After coaching one of the youngest rosters in the league this season, something that isn't changing anytime soon, Billups didn't sound too excited about the possibility of adding four more rookies:

"I just hope that we can be more geared towards trying to win first and then develop along the way. We have a lot of picks in the draft this year and a lot of young guys developing - those are conversations we’ll start having - but I really hope we can start to really win."

Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups

Put the two together and it sounds reasonable to expect Cronin to play with some of Portland's draft capital - package picks to move up the board, use them to trade for an established young player, turn them into future selections - while targeting a floor spacer and a playmaker.

Which prospects fit Portland's draft strategy?

Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder at the top of this year's draft. It's marketed as a weak class with no consensus No. 1 prospect. But if the Blazers are going after shooting and playmaking, there are a few different options.

Guard Stephon Castle is fresh off winning a national championship with UConn. He could act as that playmaker and connector Cronin mentioned while bringing defensive versatility with his 6-foot-6 size. But he's not a shooter, at least not yet.

Zaccharie Risacher is a 6-foot-10 forward from France who shot nearly 40 percent from three as an 18-year-old playing at some of the highest levels in Europe, but he's not much of a playmaker.

Kentucky guards Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham were high-level shooters and playmakers in college, but both are listed at 6-foot-3. Would Cronin add another small guard to a backcourt that already includes Scoot Henderson (6-2) and Anfernee Simons (6-3)?

G League Ignite forwards Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis, Baylor guard Ja'Kobe Walter and Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht fit the bill as potential playmakers or shooters, but there isn't a prospect in this draft projected to do both.


The Trail Blazers have some options for the 2024 NBA Draft, but none are perfect. That will make for an interesting next few months.