The more the Portland Trail Blazers lose (which is happening with increasing frequency), the better chance they have at landing one of the top picks in the 2024 NBA Draft. Even in what's considered to be a poor class, a higher pick and a better bite at the apple is crucial for a rebuilding franchise.
As it stands, the Blazers have two lottery picks: their own and the Golden State Warriors'. Is it likely Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and a (changed?) Draymond Green end the season as one of the 14 worst teams in the league? Probably not. But the Dubs don't seem to be legitimate title contenders at the moment, so Portland could have two relatively high picks come June.
What say the mock drafts? Here's a roundup of the latest projections as to what the Trail Blazers will do with their valuable selections.
Portland grabs two versatile big men in lottery
Bleacher Report recently released a two-round mock draft, and expert Jonathan Wasserman sees the Blazers going big and adding skill to their frontcourt. Both are needs for a Portland team struggling with injuries and a lack of high-upside talent at that position.
No. 5: Matas Buzelis, G League Ignite
Buzelis is a 6-foot-9 forward with above-average athleticism, projectable shot-making ability out to the 3-point line and the potential to be a solid defender. Wasserman lists Orland Magic star Franz Wagner as his Buzelis comp.
No. 12: Kyle Filipowski, Duke
Filipowski returned for a second season with the Blue Devils but hasn't done much to increase his draft stock. He's a 7-foot jack of all trades, master of none who's shown flashes of a 3-point shot, low-post scoring ability and ballhandling skills that could translate well to the NBA and make him a versatile big man. At 20 years old, he potentially still has room to grow.
No. 34: Izan Almansa, G League Ignite
Almansa is a forward/center in the Jabari Walker high-effort mold.
No. 39: Baba Miller, Florida State
Miller is a pure upside shot as a wing in a 6-11 body.
Blazers go big or go home
Yardbarker's 2024 NBA mock draft has Portland grabbing two raw but high-upside prospects with their lottery selections.
No. 5: Zaccharie Risacher, France
Risacher has the potential to be one of the league's best scoring wings if everything breaks right. He can score at all three levels and has a nice shooting stroke from deep, and at 6-10 could defend multiple positions.
No. 9: Cody Williams, Colorado
There's a good chance Williams rises up draft boards as the college season rolls on. He's a 6-8 freshman wing averaging 14 points with 62/60/67 shooting splits.
Trail Blazers make a trade to move into top 3
The most surprising mock draft has Portland making a trade. The likelihood of the Blazers dealing assets to move up in a poor draft class when they'll already have a high selection seems minuscule, but here's the deal:
Portland: moves up from No. 5 to No. 3
Washington Wizards get: Matisse Thybulle, 2024 second-round pick
Letting a valuable asset go to move up two spots when they're already in the top 5 seems like a bad call, but in this scenario, the Blazers land French big man Alex Sarr, who could end up being the best player in the 2024 draft.
Sarr looks like a young Kevin Garnett on defense with his length, athleticism and versatility. He can switch with relative ease and guard on the perimeter and has the size and strength - 7-1, 220 pounds - to battle inside.
He shows flashes of high-level offense, and that will be the difference between a rotational center and a high-level starter. He's shown a smooth jumper and the ability to attack closeouts off the dribble during games against the G League Ignite and in the NBL with the Perth Wildcats.
No. 12: Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas
With the second lottery pick, Sir Charles in Charge has the Blazers going with an experienced college upperclassman rather than another swing for the fences.
McCullar Jr. is a fifth-year senior who's played in big games with the Jayhawks. The 6-6 guard is averaging 20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists and is hitting 36.2 percent from deep on more than 4 attempts per game for the No. 3 team in the country.