Around this same time last year, I started liking two guys that I thought would be great pieces for the Portland Trail Blazers. Those two guys were Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard.
Leonard and Lillard had great workouts and interviews for Portland. Both of them seemed to be a great fit for Portland. With today’s game being a guard’s league, Portland was in dire need of a new point guard – they found that in Lillard. It was also time for Portland to go in a new direction with a center as Greg Oden’s body refused to let him be healthy – they found a potential starting center with great athleticism in Leonard.
This year, I’m starting to think that Caldwell-Pope is another piece to the puzzle. He has a great work ethic on the defensive end. He has a decent offensive game that saw improvements from his freshman to sophomore year at Georgia. He should be in Portland’s range with the number 10 pick as well.
Caldwell-Pope was consistent in his sophomore year – he scored in double figures in every game. Consistency has been somewhat of an issue with Blazers’ wing players. This is something Caldwell-Pope can add off the bench if the Blazers draft him.
The Blazers would like to add depth at shooting guard. They also want to get better defensively. Caldwell-Pope seems like the best fit for what their looking for. .
In a video shot by Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com, Caldwell-Pope talked about his pre-draft workout and what he can bring to the team. The one thing that stood out to me was his answer to what he thought the strengths of his game were.
“Defending. I defend well and that might help me stay patient and make my offensive game come to me.”
This tells me that he will come in and work primarily on the defensive end. While doing so, he will let his offensive game develop.
Obviously, he is a defensive minded shooting guard which is a huge plus for Portland. Last season, the Blazers defense was questionable to say the least. That is an area they hope to get better in this offseason and Caldwell-Pope can definitely help.
Letting his offensive game come to him is exactly what he needs to do. I see a little bit of Paul George potential in him. He can come in and help the Blazers right away defensively. At the same time, he will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his offensive skills off the bench, but he must remain patient. He shouldn’t look to force things – some shaky offense could take minutes away some of his minutes.
His defensive abilities will earn him NBA minutes early on. He could even see some spot starts in Portland if Nicolas Batum or Wesley Matthews get injured throughout the season.
Caldwell-Pope will most likely be available when Portland is on the clock Thursday, June 27. I believe he is a great fit. Portland needs depth at the position he plays. They need to get better defensively. And finally, they need someone who can provide an offensive spark off the bench.
If Portland holds onto the 10th overall pick, then I see Caldwell-Pope being their guy.
Jason Hartzog is on Twitter. Follow him at @JHartsLife