The 2013 NBA draft is nearly upon us, and the Portland Trail Blazers have some serious decisions to make. Do they go big and fill a need? Do they target talent and build for depth?
Whichever route they choose to go, it’s bound to have a serious impact on the roster one way or the other.
But while we all know about the big names who are available, there are a handful of sleepers who could ultimately jump into Portland’s lap.
Shane Larkin, PG
Shane Larkin is a sleeper for the Portland Trail Blazers.
There’s no true way to predict the NBA draft, but 2013 is proving to be more difficult to forecast than most years. The reason for this is because there are no sure-things, which means there are a handful of players who could land anywhere from mid-lottery to the mid-to-late first round.
Currently, Shane Larkin, a point guard out of Miami, sits at No. 15 on ESPN’s mock draft. The Blazers would love to take C.J. McCollum out of Lehigh with the 10th-overall pick, but if the scoring guard is gone, Larkin could be the next-best option.
Larkin is a traditional point guard who could complement Damian Lillard nicely. He’s undersized when compared to today’s athletic players at his position, but he’s a good shooter who sees the floor well on both offense and defense.
Ricky Ledo, G
On paper, Ricky Ledo is a 6’6” shooting guard. He’s slightly undersized because of his weight at the 2-guard spot, but he’s more of a combo guard without a true definition.
In a recent ESPN chat, Chad Ford said that Ledo would be a candidate for the Blazers at 10 if McCollum and Kenntavious Caldwell-Pope were both gone. Ledo is projected to go 25th overall in Ford’s mock drat, but the analyst admits that the guard has impressed people to the point where his stock is rising.
Giannia Antetokounmpo, SF
According to ESPN, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz all have interest in Giannia Antetokounmpo. Those teams select at 12, 13 and 14 respectively, but they may not get the chance if Portland feels like rolling the dice on a raw prospect.
Antetokounmpo is a product of Greece, and recently impressed scouts with his performance in Italy. He’s a 6’9” small forward, and while he’s not considered a top 10 pick in most circles, he is considered a good ball handler and passer, which are two things that players his size to lack too often.
Like Ledo, Antetokounmpo was used as an example of someone the Blazers could take if their top choices are gone.
E.J. Singler, F
If you’re looking for a true sleeper, look no further than the Oregon Ducks’ own, E.J. Singler. The forward was invited to Portland not once, but twice this offseason, and that’s good news for a guy whose future has been looking like time overseas or in the Developmental League.
E.J. Singler won’t be taken at 10, but he’s an under-the-radar pick in the second round.
In all likelihood, the Blazers are looking at Singler as a potential free-agent signing once the draft has passed. The prospect isn’t featured on most mock drafts—if any—and it’s unlikely that he’s drafted, to say the least.
Then again, Portland has done stranger things than taking a second look at a local kid. Don’t hold your breath for Singler’s name to be called on draft day, but don’t be surprised if the Blazers make the move to keep a NW kid in his home state.
Shabazz Muhammad, SG
In most cases, a someone as highly touted as Shabazz Muhammad wouldn’t be considered a player who could sneak up in the draft. He has the talent to make the first half of the lottery, and he has the scoring ability to add to any roster in the NBA.
The problem is that his draft stock has fallen, and he’s not even considered a top-15 pick in the eyes of many media members.
If Portland really wants to take a chance at 10, Muhammad could very well be the guy.
We all know that the Blazers need a center, and chances are, there will be at least one available when it’s their turn to choose on draft day. But if the team really wants to make a splash, it can go the route of talent—not size—and grab a player who many see as having a lot to offer to the right team.
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