With the 2020 NBA season in the rearview mirror, the next major event in the sports world is the NBA Draft. With two weeks remaining before names are called and prospects don the hat of their future franchise, we're taking a look at the betting odds on who the Trail Blazers will take.
The Trail Blazers are coming off of a first-round exit to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers after clinching the 8-seed in the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida. Finishing the season at 35-39, Portland erased a 3.5 game deficit and won the play-in game to knock the Memphis Grizzlies out of the playoffs.
With that, the Trail Blazers clinched the No. 16 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Who will the Blazers pick? Well, they've surprised us in recent years and kept us on our toes.
In 2017, they surprised many by pulling a draft-night trade with the Kings for the rights to Zach Collins.
In 2018, they used the 24th overall pick to draft Anfernee Simons, a little known high school player out of IMG Academy in Florida.
In 2019, they were shocked to see Nassir Little slide down the board and scooped the projected lottery pick up at No.25.
The point is, you never know what will happen on Draft night.
However, we can put together a good gameplan and piece the puzzle together to figure out what the Blazers might do.
First, let's talk about need.
The obvious need for the Blazers is on at small forward.
Gary Trent spent some time at the three this season but is much better suited to play the two. Rodney Hood was the starter last season before he injured his Achilles and missed the remainder of the season. Though he looks to be healthy, it still remains to be seen how well he has recovered from the injury. The Blazers also have Trevor Ariza, who is still very much a question mark for next season with $12 million on the books should the Blazers keep him. Is Ariza in the Blazers' future?
Regardless, depth at small forward will be an issue the Blazers will look to fix on draft night, potentially even drafting a starter at that spot.
But that isn't the only position of need. In the paint, the Blazers could lose a ton of depth.
Power forwards Carmelo Anthony, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan are all free agents. Center Hassan Whiteside is a free agent as well. With finances fairly tight, the Blazers may not be able to bring all of them back. In that case, the contingency plan could be to add PF/C depth via the draft.
Lastly, the Blazers need help on defense, so don't rule out a defensive-minded guard. If the clock is on Portland and the Blazers see a talented defensive guard on the board, they could make the call. It's a low probability, but it's in the back of their mind.
Still, wing, wing, wing, will be where the Blazers' main focus will be and we more or less have a mini-road map to work with.
Now, the oddsmakers are weighing in on what Neil Olshey and the Trail Blazers might do with their first pick. Odds are provided by our partner PointsBet.
Saddiq Bey: 6'8", 216lb Small Forward, Sophomore, Villanova-- +600
RJ Hampton: 6'4", 175lb Guard. New Zealand-- +650
Precious Achiuwa: 6'9", 225lb Forward, Freshman, Memphis-- +800
Kira Lewis: 6'3", 165lb Guard , Sophmore, Alabama-- +800
Aaron Nesmith: 6'6", 213lb Forward, Sophmore, Vanderbilt-- +800
Cole Anthony: 6'3", 190lb Guard, Freshman, North Carolina-- +1000
Tyrese Maxey: 6'3", 198lb Guard, Freshman, Kentucky-- +1200
Patrick Williams: 6'8", 225lb Guard, Freshman, Florida State-- +1200
Josh Green: 6'6", 210lb Guard, Freshman, Arizona-- +1500
Aleksej Pokusevski: 7'0", 195lb Power Forward, Greece-- +2000
Jalen Smith: 6'10", 225lb Forward, Sophomore, Maryland-- +3000
Leandro Bolmaro: 6'6",180lb Guard, Argentina-- +3000
Isaiah Stewart: 6'9", 250lb Forward, Freshman, Washington-- +3000
Jaden McDaniels: 6'9", 200lb Forward, Freshman, Washington-- +4000
Jahmius Ramsey: 6'4", 195lb Guard, Freshman, Texas Tech-- +4000
Bey and Hampton are the favorites, and both very intriguing. Hampton could be a draft night steal similar to Michael Porter Junior, and his skillset is reminiscent of a young Zach LaVine. He interviewed with the team in September.
Hampton chose not to play in college and instead played professionally in Australia's National Basketball League where he played in 15 games, averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game this season. However, he is another guard, and Portland is pretty set at that spot.
As for Saddiq Bey, if he is still on the board when the Blazers are on the clock it would be a mistake to pass on him. A big wing that can defend every position is exactly what the Blazers need. What he lacks offensively he more than makes up for defensively. Portland has plenty of scoring in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, so they can survive with that. Defense is what Portland needs, and Bey brings it.
Who the Blazers decide to pick and how they will get to that conclusion will be interesting giving how COVID-19 has changed the draft process. Neil Olshey told us last month how he had the team's big board set early, but COVID altered how they could talk to and see players workout.
We'll have to wait and see what the Trail Blazers do, but Neil Olshey has proven time and again the ability to identify talent in the NBA Draft, and sometimes it's not who you might think. Be sure to check back daily for NBA Draft Profiles and previews of what is to come for the Blazers on NBA Draft night.
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