Found April 22, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Back in the lottery The 2012-13 NBA season proved to be a year of ups and downs for the Portland Trail Blazers. With the team out of the playoffs, the compilation prize has become a spot in the lottery. Portland has a few places on the roster that it needs to address. Starting center will be a problem if JJ Hickson leaves, backup point guard will be vacant if Eric Maynor signs elsewhere and the entire second unit needs talent to help compensate for inexperience. In all likelihood, the Blazers will land a pick between 10 and 14. In this year’s class, you’re not going to find a star at that point, but there are a few players who will help fill the needs of this re-tooling organization. Nerlens Noel If the Blazers win the lottery, they must target Nerlens Noel (Photo: USA Today) Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. Nerlens Noel becoming a Trail Blazer is a long shot. Portland would have to enter the top 3 via the lottery, and it would likely have to obtain the No. 1 or No. 2 spot. Then again, the Blazers have leapfrogged the pack before, showing anything can happen in the midst of a rebuild. If Portland is fortunate enough to land a top-3 spot, Noel has to be the guy on its radar. Few early selections are going to accept a bench role, and Noel could step right in and become the starting center. It’s possible he ends up being more of a power forward in the NBA, as his 215-pound frame needs to bulk up, but at 6’11”, the guy knows how to defend the rim. The biggest red flag with Noel is the fact that he is recovering from a torn ACL. Do the Blazers really want to take a chance on a top-tier big man with a bad knee? That answer is up for debate. But if this team is willing to take a chance, Noel could be its guy if the ping pong balls go its way. Cody Zeller Cody Zeller was once considered a top-5 pick, but with his physique coming into question, he could fall somewhere between 10 and 13 when June’s draft finally rolls around. Zeller is a skilled big man standing 6’11”, 210 pounds. Like Noel, he fills a position that Portland needs, and he had a solid 2012-13 season. He improved his points per game to 16.5, his rebounds to 8.1 and his blocks to 1.3. His perimeter game needs improvement, but he knows how to create out of the high elbow, which would be similar to what JJ Hickson has done during his one-year contract. Like Meyers Leonard, Zeller would have a steep learning curve when it comes to banging against bigger bodies. He needs to add that to his game, but he’d be a project worth taking on with his skill set around the rim. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope In 2012, the Trail Blazers took a risk in drafting a player who saw his stock quickly rise. That player ended up being Damian Lillard, and needless to say, things have worked out just fine. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could find himself in a similar situation. There’s no indication that he’s going to be an instant star the way Damian Lillard has been, but the opportunity to take someone who few saw coming could be there for Portland. Caldwell-Pope is a deadly three-point shooter who would help provide talent at the backup 2-guard position. Not only did he shoot better than 37 percent from deep range, but he has good mechanics and a consistent release. That kind of ability can translate to the NBA, which will help him find a role even if his playmaking abilities take time to improve. Michael Carter-Williams It goes without saying that Rip City no longer needs a starting point guard. The backup spot, however, is in question, as Nolan Smith is good as gone and Eric Maynor could also find himself elsewhere. Michael Carter-Williams could help improve Portland’s second unit. Michael Carter-Williams isn’t going to help the perimeter shooting, but he is a floor general who averaged more than seven assists per game in his sophomore season. He’s dealt with extreme inconsistency as a collegiate athlete, but he’d be a solid gamble behind Lillard with his size, athleticism and ball-handling skills. Another backcourt option is C.J. McCollum. He is the better scorer, but having seen Lillard play off the ball, it’s questionable as to whether or not McCollum’s shooting ability outweighs his inability to collect assists. Alex Len The chances of landing Alex Len in the draft aren’t high for Portland. The center out of Maryland isn’t a top-tier player, meaning if Portland landed in the top 3, he’d be overlooked. However, he’s considered a top-10 selection – prior to pre-draft workouts – meaning the Blazers will miss out on him if they stand pat in the late lottery. That being said, the Blazers have been known to swing draft-day deals here and there, and Len would be worth a look if they can get themselves into the six-to-10 range. Len stands 7’1”, and he has the athleticism to play in transition. He has the skills to excel on the perimeter, he can pass out of the high post and he proved he can be a factor on both the boards and the defensive block. As impressive as he’s shown he can be, his inconsistencies were obvious when facing stronger low-post players. This guy should remind fans a lot of Meyers Leonard, and the question becomes whether or not Portland wants to take on a project player with so many similarities to its current young center. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Missing pieces to the 2013/14 Rip City puzzle

Necessary upgrades If you take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers, there are a number of players who are expected to be gone for the 2013-14 season. With that in mind, there are a few places on the roster that desperately need an upgrade. Portland’s season was full of both success and disappointment. There are a few places where the future looks bright, but there are also spots...

Looking Ahead: A Wish List For Next Year’s Portland Trail Blazers

A 13-game losing streak leaves a foul stench in the nostrils of Portland fans heading into the offseason. But if you’ve been through Tillamook and enjoyed their ice cream or cheddar cheese, you realize that sometimes a nasty odor is a necessary step in producing bigger and better things. The memory of the season-ending slide will fade away from the memory of Blazer fans as...

Start of Free Agency: Where Does Portland Go From Here?

Despite an end to the season that saw the Portland Trail Blazers seemingly lose the will to go on, the season was not a loss.  The team performed above expectations for most of the year, and Damian Lillard showed an ability to dominate on offense in just his first year in the league.  Between Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge, the team has a strong core...

NBA Draft: Doubts abound about impact guys

Most NBA general managers and team executives arent getting all superstitious about this years NBA Draft lottery. Most seem to think you could land as good of a player with the fifth overall pick as you can at No. 1. Basically, theres no one guy GMs feel like they have to have. But most also seem to believe theres an abundance of prospects who could offer immediate help -- and thats...

HoopStuff 2 Round NBA Mock Draft (2nd Version)

HoopStuff’s 2013 NBA Mock Draft 1. Charlotte Bobcats- Nerlens Noel- C- Kentucky - Torn ACL or not, Noel is considered the top prospect in this draft. He will be a defensive backbone of a team and an elite rebounder, but he is raw on offense. His should be a defensive star immediately and the Bobcats desperately need that in the post and any offense he provides would be an extra...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.