Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 6/28/13
2013 NBA draft in the books The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2013 NBA draft with rumors swirling. Would they move up to improve their selection? Would they trade out of the draft altogether? As it turned out, the evening went by without much drama, but that doesn’t mean the team didn’t improve. Without ever truly making headlines, this team quietly left its mark all over the draft. Management still has moves to make in free agency, but with the draft officially in the past, the bench has improved, which is a major step in the right direction. No. 10: CJ McCollum C.J. McCollum was taken 10th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. (Photo: Kathy Willens/AP) Before the Blazers made their first pick in the draft, rumors began to fly that the team had struck a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota had taken college basketball’s Player of the Year in Trey Burke, and it looked as if Portland would be moving up and claiming the guard out of Michigan. As it turned out, that pick went to the Utah Jazz, which meant Portland was set to draft on its own behalf. At No. 10, the Blazers selected CJ McCollum out of Lehigh. He’s a score-first point guard from a mid-major program, he has an absolutely deadly jumper, and while he’s coming off of a broken foot, he saw his stock rise through solid pre-draft workouts. Sound familiar? That’s because he’s already drawn comparisons to Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. The obvious question here is: Can McCollum play alongside Damian Lillard? It’s a question that has yet to be answered, but the two players have expressed their eagerness to play with each other. McCollum will likely take the place of Eric Maynor at the backup 1-spot, and if he and Damian Lillard complement each other as well as they believe they will, it’s going to help the Blazers’ bench scoring problems. It’s always risky taking a small-school player who hasn’t proven he can run an offense, but the success of Lillard helped set the path for McCollum to be a top-10 pick. If this selection showed anything, it’s that Portland finally stayed true to its word by drafting for talent over need. The team could have taken big man Steven Adams out of Pittsburgh, but it chose to add a quality scorer who will help spread the floor when Lillard heads to the sidelines. It’s natural to be nervous about taking a point guard with Lillard running the show, but with a friendship already established, the two guards should create for one heck of a duo as the years go on. Grade: A-   No. 31: Allen Crabbe (Trade) It just wouldn’t be an NBA draft if the Trail Blazers didn’t make a trade. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected California guard Allen Crabbe with the 31st pick, but as we quickly learned, that selection was made on behalf of Portland. The Blazers sent a pair of second rounders to the Cavs, giving them another player who will help spread the floor off the bench. Allen Crabbe was acquired via trade by the Trail Blazers. Crabbe was ranked No. 25 on ESPN’s pre-draft breakdown, and was considered a first-round selection on a number of mock drafts. The pick is a good one for Portland, but the cost is what makes this a steal. Portland is looking to add talent to the current roster, and second-round picks down the road are worth pennies for a team looking to return to the playoffs. Crabbe is a 6’6” 2-guard who averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He shot just 34.8 percent from deep range in 2012-13, but he was a much better shooter than that throughout most of his career at Cal. If Crabbe has any limitations, it’s that he doesn’t have a lot of athleticism for the 2-guard spot. He’s a bit undersized, and while he has the mid-range game to make up for that size, many players before him have failed to adjust. Crabbe has potential,  and it will be interesting to see where he fits in on this Trail Blazers team. Grade: B   No. 39: Jeff Withey The Blazers managed to get another guy at 39 who was ranked higher in his ESPN profile than his actual draft spot. Jeff Withey, a 7’0” center out of Kansas, was rated No. 32 entering the draft. Withey is known in NBA circles as being a bit soft, but it’s tough to deny his collegiate production as a defender. He is a two-time Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and he is the conference’s career leader in blocks with 312. Withey’s ceiling in the NBA is questionable. This pick in no way will detract management from seeking a proven big man in free agency, but it does give them insurance at a position that has been in question for as long as most fans can remember. Don’t be surprised if Withey rides the pine during most of 2013-14, but at 39th overall, it would have been foolish for the Blazers to leave him on the board. Grade: C+   No. 40: Grant Jerrett *Update: Grant Jerrett has been traded by the Trail Blazers So Grant Jerrett, the forward from Arizona, will not be with the Blazers. He was traded, but no details have been given. — Jason Quick (@jwquick) June 28, 2013 Grant Jerrett’s decision to leave Arizona after just one season is a curious one. He has a high ceiling at the NBA level, but he is the definition of a project, as he needs to add both strength and aggression to his overall game. Jerrett’s upside comes from his ability to spread the floor. He’s a good passer, he has a high basketball IQ and he can shoot the ball from the long range, which has become an essential characteristic of today’s power forwards. Jerrett has the potential to make a difference on a roster down the road, but Portland clearly isn’t looking for more projects. Until details come about reading what Portland got in return, it’s tough to give a fair grade on the team’s execution with the 40th pick. Grade: C   No. 45: Marko Todorovic The Portland Trail Blazers quietly had a successful showing in the 2013 NBA draft. If you’ve never heard of Marko Todorovic, you’re not alone. The center from Montenegro is hardly a household name, and he’s likely to be stashed overseas for at least a couple of seasons. With the 45th pick in the draft, Portland knew it wasn’t going to find a player who could contribute right away. The team is already so young that adding players just for the sake of adding players doesn’t make sense. With this pick, Portland has a big body that it can look to down the road. If they never look his way, they don’t have to pay him. The grade is low, but it’s a safe pick that Olshey couldn’t pass up. Grade: D   Overall Analysis The Blazers did something brilliant in this draft that can’t be ignored: They set themselves up for the rest of the summer. One question that’s bound to be asked is: Why would the Blazers draft McCollum when they have Eric Maynor as a restricted free agent? As well as Maynor played, his cap hold was going to take away a significant amount of free agent money, and that’s why the team won’t be extending him a qualifying offer, per Candice Buckner of The Columbian. Now, with McCollum on board, the team can afford to risk letting Maynor walk, giving it somewhere between $11.6 million and $12 million to spend in free agency. After the 10th pick, Portland simply stocked up. It addressed two pressing issues in talent and need, and when it was all said and done, the organization walked away happy. It’s true that we never saw the “big trade” that some wanted, and that’s why Portland won’t go down as the big winners in most books. But between the players chosen and the money saved, Olshey and his crew deserve a ton of credit. This team is officially ready for free agency, and it’s ready to find a big-time piece to surround its newest additions. Grade: B CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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