Why the Trail Blazers should take a flyer on Tidjane Salaun at pick No. 7

The Portland Trail Blazers should gamble on raw prospect Tidjane Salaun with pick No. 7 in the 2024 NBA Draft.
TOFAS v Cholet Basket - FIBA Champions League
TOFAS v Cholet Basket - FIBA Champions League / Anadolu/GettyImages

Tidjane Salaun was often linked to the Portland Trail Blazers at pick No. 14 in previous 2024 NBA mock drafts. The French wing is only 18 years old and one of the youngest players in the draft class. As a raw prospect who has only played basketball for a few years, the rebuilding Blazers can afford to be patient with his development.

Salaun makes sense for a team like Rip City to take a flyer on. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that he will be available for the Blazers at pick No. 14. Rumors have circulated that Salaun could be a top-ten pick because of his increased play with Cholet Basket towards the end of the season. According to ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony, many teams have linked Salaun to the San Antonio Spurs (subscription required) at pick No. 8.

If the Blazers are targeting Salaun, they should seriously consider selecting him at No. 7. There are various reasons why this shouldn’t be viewed as a “reach” if they decide to take a chance on him.

Blazers should swing for upside and take Salaun at pick No. 7

Salaun is an intriguing draft option because he has one of the highest upsides among all the incoming draft prospects. He’s a project that the Blazers would have to invest time in developing, but his potential makes it worth the gamble. If Salaun pans out in the league, he would be an excellent 3-and-D forward who can guard multiple positions.

Although he only shot 32.9 percent from three this season with Cholet, many scouts believe Salaun will be more efficient than that during his NBA career. He possesses the skills to be a legitimate spot-up shooting threat, especially given his length and quick release.

In terms of fit, Salaun can contribute to winning without necessarily needing the ball. His floor spacing, rebounding, and defensive versatility are exactly what the Blazers need. It’s easy to imagine Salaun playing alongside the Blazers’ smaller, ball-dominant guards like Scoot Henderson in the future. Salaun, at this stage in his development, often needs to rely on other playmakers to help him score. Henderson is great at getting his teammates open looks with his ability to attack the paint and collapse the defense.

This year’s draft class is viewed to be one of the weakest in recent memory. That gives the Blazers even more reason to take a risk on a project like Salaun. If he doesn’t pan out, the opportunity cost of the Blazers missing out on one of these other top picks is lower than typical drafts. Combine that with the fact that Portland has another lottery pick at No. 14, and it makes sense to take a chance on a high-upside prospect like Salaun with their No. 7 overall selection.