Day 14 of NBA Draftmas features the Portland Trail Blazers. This team has one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but that is about all they have. Let’s take a look at how their season went.
Portland has made the playoffs four straight years now. However, their win total has dropped in each of those seasons.
In the 2013-14 season, they finished fifth in the West with a 54-28 record and lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals. This past season they finished 41-41, which was good for eighth in the conference and lost in the first round to the Warriors.
Key players from the 2013-14 squad like LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are no longer on the team. Losing that much talent will definitely hurt a team.
Guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum remain as the team’s top stars. They helped Portland average 107.9 points per game, good for eighth in the NBA. Lillard averaged 27 and McCollum averaged 23.
What really hurt Portland was their defense. They allowed 108.5 points per game, which ranked 25th in the league. That left the Blazers with a -0.6 point differential, which ranked 18th in the league. They also only ranked 23rd in forced turnovers at just 12.4 per game.
Portland needs defensive help. They also need to strengthen their frontcourt. Maurice Harkless and Noah Vonleh are not starting-caliber players. A defensive-focused big man who can help chip in some points would be a great addition for Portland.
picks & needs
Portland has three first-round picks in this draft and none in the second.
First round: No. 15, No. 20 (from Memphis), No. 26 (from Cleveland)
Second round: none
Portland has a great opportunity to improve their defense and frontcourt. With three first-round picks, surely they can get some guys who can help the team get more wins and a higher seed in the playoffs next season.
targets & thoughts
Pick #15: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Jarrett Allen was one of the few bright spots on a struggling Texas Longhorns’ roster.
The Longhorns finished 11-22 overall, including 4-14 in the Big 12. Despite the awful season, Allen stood out with averages of 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Allen has tremendous size and length. He stands 6-foot-11 with a wingspan of 7-foot-5 and a standing reach of 9-foot-1. He weighs in at 235 pounds, but should fill out over time.
There is plenty of defensive potential for Allen, who showed flashes of that at Texas. He is a rim protector and a great finisher off pick and roll.
His offensive game still needs work. However, Lillard and McCollum should be able to take care of the points for the time being as they have already. Allen’s size and defensive ability make him a great pickup for Portland. Overtime he can work on his offense and add some muscle.
Pick #20: Harry Giles, PF, Duke
I know Portland does not want another potential Greg Oden situation, but hear me out.
Giles was the No. 1 recruit in his class. He definitely has some talent to him. If it were not for two torn ACL injuries, he would be a projected top five pick no doubt. The injuries caused him to take a hit in the amount of action he got last season, so we don’t know what Giles is fully capable of. His 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game certainly don’t reflect his level of talent.
Portland can definitely afford to take a chance with one of their first-round picks since they have three of them. Giles is light on his feet, agile and has incredible length and size. He is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and 9-foot-1 standing reach.
Giles is a Joel Embiid type of talent that is going to fall to the middle of the first round. The only question, like Embiid, is can he stay healthy? If he can, Giles could be the steal of the draft. Portland should take a chance on Giles.
Pick #26: P.J. Dozier, SG, South Carolina
Dozier is a guy that can come in and give Lillard and McCollum a break in the backcourt. The former Gamecock averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Dozier has all the tools to be a great defender. His 6-foot-11 wingspan will smother most guards. He is also super athletic, evidenced by his performance at the NBA Combine. Dozier finished in the top 10 in the no-step vertical (34 inches), max vertical (39 inches) and court sprint (3.15 3/4 seconds).
Offensively, Dozier has some work to do. His outside shot is below average and he shot an atrocious 59.7 percent from the free throw line. His 2.2 turnovers per game also make his assist to turnover ratio unimpressive.
Dozier has some work to do in order to become a consistent offensive weapon. His defensive ability still makes him a good pickup for Portland.
Portland needs to improve defensively, and they can do so with their three first-round picks. Jarrett Allen has tremendous size and defensive upside. Harry Giles is a risky pick that could lead to a high reward if he stays healthy. P.J. Dozier can also come in and give Lillard and McCollum a break when they need it and also brings defensive presence.
Thanks for checking out the Portland Trail Blazers 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 15 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Chicago Bulls are going to do.
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