The NBA Draft is just over a week away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day, The Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. Draftmas continues today with the Portland Trail Blazers 2018 NBA Draft profile.
Portland won the very tough Northwest division last season, which was impressive given that every team had at least 46 wins. They got the third seed in the West but got swept by a Pelicans team that didn’t have one of their stars in DeMarcus Cousins. The early exit from the playoff has fans around the NBA wondering if the current makeup of the Blazers will last much longer or if they will make some big moves this offseason.
Damian Lillard was able to lead the team in both points and assists at 26.9 and 6.6 this season. His partner in crime, C.J. McCollum, averaged 21.4 points and 3.4 assists per game. Jusuf Nurkic was added to the fold to add an inside presence and averages 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Other key players include Al-Farouq Aminu, Shabazz Napier, Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless.
The Blazers are great defensively and rebounding the ball. They allow just 103 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league. Portland is tied for fifth in rebounds per game at 45.5. As a team they are average at scoring, ranking 16th in the NBA at 105.6 points per game. They rank dead last in assists per game and if they cannot start playing team basketball, the team could be broken up altogether.
Out of all the players mentioned, only Jusuf Nurkic and Shabazz Napier aren’t under contract for next season. The Blazers have the option to keep this thing together for a few more years if they can sign back Nurkic but they may want to try something different to gain some more ground in the West.
Picks and Needs
The Trail Blazers have one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
First round: No. 24
Second round: N/A
The forward position is a big area of need for the Blazers if they keep all their pieces. Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless and Ed Davis are all solid NBA players but they need to upgrade and get some impact players to start at the forward position. If they can get a player who can help get some ball movement on the offensive end, hit some deep shots and play defense, the Blazers could be much improved.
Targets and Thoughts
Pick No. 24: Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State
Rumor has it that the Bulls will take Hutchison at pick 22 but if he falls, Portland should scoop him up. Portland has experience turning players from smaller schools into stars in Lillard and McCollum. With some time to develop, he can turn into a solid wing threat to play alongside the two star guards.
Hutchison was one of the biggest players on the floor in college but demonstrated the ability to do a little bit of everything. He has the skill to play the three or a small-ball four position in the NBA. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The Boise State product will knock down shots, defend and help move the ball on offense.
The Blazers need to find out whether they want to add to this unit to try to win a championship or move some pieces around and try something new. Either way they have a solid team and should be competitive next season.