Usually around this time of year, we’d be neck deep in NBA draft coverage. But since the Trail Blazers currently own no picks in either the first or second round of the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft, the yearly ritual of watching and interviewing a parade of potential picks who are in town to work out against each other at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin has been discontinued, at least this year.
So since we’ve got some spare time, let’s take a look at where the current players on Portland’s roster were drafted and which teams drafted them before they became Trail Blazers. For reference, five of Portland’s current players were drafted by the Trail Blazers, three were acquired by the Trail Blazers on draft night, three were drafted by other teams and one went undrafted. Portland’s roster currently boasts five lottery picks, 10 first-round picks and two second-round picks. Here they are, in order of where in the draft they were selected …
The Bulls selected Aldridge with the second pick in the 2006 Draft, then sent him to Portland on draft night in exchange for Tyrus Thomas, who the Trail Blazers selected with the fourth overall pick, and Viktor Khryapa. The Blazers also got a conditional second round pick as a part of the deal (though I think that was traded at some point as well). This trade has to go down as one of the most successful in franchise history seeing as how both Thomas and Khryapa are out of the league while Aldridge is likely the best player to come out of the 2007 class. And from what I gather on my once-yearly trips to Chicago, this trade is still a sore subject among Bulls fans in the Windy City. I doubt the Raptors, who selected Andrea Bargnani ahead of Aldridge with the first overall pick, look back fondly on this one either.
Of the four current Trail Blazers selected in the 2012 Draft, Robinson was the first to be selected. He played in 51 games for the Kings before being traded his rookie season to the Houston Rockets in one of the more head-scratching moves involving a rookie. The Rockets then traded Thomas in the offseason to Portland to clear salary for which to sign Dwight Howard in free agency. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters were selected ahead of Robinson, with the next pick being …
Another trade, albeit not on draft day, that worked out extremely well for the Trail Blazers. Portland sent Gerald Wallace to the then New Jersey Nets in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a top-3 protected pick in the 2012 Draft. Neither Okur nor Williams ever played for the Trail Blazers, but the Nets ended up with the sixth pick in the 2012 Draft Lottery, which resulted in Portland selecting a point guard from little known Weber State. Since then, Lillard has been named Rookie of the Year, an All-Star and a third-team All-NBA selection.
By the way, this is one of the all-time great shaking-hands-with-David-Stern photos. Dame hitting him with the serious ice grill.
The 2013 class had one of the worst collective rookie seasons of any draft class in recent memory, but you can’t fault McCollum for that. After averaging 21.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists at the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, McCollum suffered a break of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot early in training camp, all but scuttling his rookie season. Trey Burke was selected by Utah the pick before McCollum, while Michael Carter-Williams, who went on to win the 2014 Rookie of the Year almost by default, was selected 11th by the Philadelphia.
After the Trail Blazers used the pick acquired in the Gerald Wallace trade to select Damian Lillard, they used their own pick to select Meyers Leonard out of Illinois. Portland struck a balance with these picks, as Lillard became Portland’s starting point guard moments after shaking David Stern’s hand, while Leonard was selected with an eye toward the future. Meyers was selected after New Orleans drafted Austin Rivers with the ninth pick and before Houston selected Jeremy Lamb.
The Suns selected Robin Lopez with a pick they received from Atlanta as a part of the sign-and-trade that sent Joe Johnson to the Hawks. The Suns got Boris Diaw in that trade and a 2006 first round pick along with the pick that became RoLo, making this a nice little trade for Phoenix. Robin’s twin, Brook, was drafted by the Nets five picks prior in a draft that produced a bevy of quality NBA bigmen, including Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert (who was taken two picks after RoLo), Serge Ibaka, Omer Asik, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee, Ryan Anderson, Kosta Koufos, Nikola Pekovic, Jason Thompson and JJ Hickson. That’s a ton of starting centers and power forwards from just one draft. As Robin would say, RoLo in good company.
While he is primarily thought of as a shooter at this point in his career, there was a time that Dorell Wright was was considered more of an athlete than a basketball player. Wright didn’t start focusing on hoops until he was well into high school, which makes the Heat selecting Wright with the 19th pick out of South Kent High School all the more impressive. Dorell’s draft was the last in which players could be selected straight from the prep ranks, which might explain why eight of the 30 players taken in the first round were straight out of high school, including Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair.
The Trail Blazers drafted or traded on draft night for four players in the 2009 Draft. Victor Claver was the only first-rounder at No. 22, though he was the last of the four to play for the Trail Blazers, as he spent the next two season playing for Valencia in Spain. Now, with Jeff Ayres (then Jeff Pendergraph), Dante Cunningham and Patty Mills all playing for different teams, Claver is the last player who the Blazers selected in that draft who is still with the team.
Along with trading acquiring Aldridge from the Bulls, the deal that netted the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum goes down as one of their better draft day moves. Three-team trades, especially during the draft, can be a bit convoluted, but the gist is the Trail Blazers ended up with Batum in exchange for the rights to Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey. In retrospect, that’s a complete no-brainer. Batum was only available at No. 25 after irregularities showed up on a heart test administered during a workout with the Raptors. That test, along with the incorrectly reported news that Batum’s father had died of a heart attack (it was an aneurysm) while playing professionally in France, sent Batum’s stock plummeting, even after new tests showed no issue. An unfortunate draft tale, but it all turned out fine in the end.
There were doubts that Joel Freeland would ever play in the NBA despite the Trail Blazers using the final pick of the first round to select the 6-11 Englishman. But in 2012, six years after he was drafted alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, Freeland signed a three-year contract with the Trail Blazers after working himself into being one of the top bigmen in Spain while playing for both Gran Canaria and Malaga.
And we’ve come to the second rounders. Allen Crabbe was selected by the Cavaliers with the first pick of the second round, only to be traded soon after to Portland in exchange for two second-round picks. The Trail Blazers felt that Crabbe, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection and the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year out of Cal, had first round talent, so when he slipped to the second round, the Trail Blazers made the move to bring him to Portland. I actually broke the news to Crabbe in his post-selection press conference that he had been traded to Portland AFTER he had already fielded ten minutes of questions about playing in Cleveland.
After winning the Conference USA Player of the Year in his sophomore season at Memphis, Will Normal Barton III made himself eligible for the 2012 Draft, presumably because he thought he would be taken in the first round. That turned out to not be the case, as the 6-6 swingman from Baltimore had to wait until well into the second round to hear his name called. The pick Portland used to draft Barton was a part of the trade that sent Marcus Camby to Houston in exchange for Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet. Considering the strides Barton made this season, you have to feel real good about the way that trade panned out.
Wesley Matthews’ journey from undrafted senior out of Marquette to starting NBA shooting guard is well documented, so there’s probably not much reason to rehash that origin story here. But consider this: there are 10 players who were drafted in the second round of the 2009 Draft who have never played in the NBA, and odds are that none of those 10 ever will at this point. What’s more, seven other players taken in the second round of the 2009 were not on NBA rosters last season. So Matthews, who started every game he played all four years at Marquette, was passed over by 19 players, just in the second round, who no longer have what it takes or never did have what it takes to play in the NBA. Meanwhile, Matthews has started 321 NBA games and had his best season ever in 2013-14 while starting for a team that went to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Remember that the next time you find yourself buying into the draft hype.
Greetings fans of NBA offseason news. With the 2106 Draft now completed and the free agent moratorium less than 48 away, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
This week, Trail Blazers power forward Meyers Leonard joins the show to discuss his travels around Oregon this offseason, rehabbing from the shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his 2015-16 season, “sprint mechanics” and his upcoming restricted free agency. As for the rest of the show, we briefly recap Portland’s draft night, which netted the team Maryland forward Jake Layman, discuss what we know about the negotiations regarding the team’s television rights and discuss the unpredictability that is free agency.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Trail Blazers have acquired the No. 47 pick of the 2016 Draft from the Orlando Magic, which they will use to select 6-9 forward Jake Layman out of Maryland…
Portland will select Maryland’s Jake Layman with No. 47, sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Source: To get Maryland’s Jake Layman at No. 47, Portland will send Orlando $1.2M and a 2019 second-round pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
The Trail Blazers entered Thursday’s draft with no picks, though it always seemed likely they’d purchase a second round pick, as Paul Allen has shown throughout his tenure as owner that he’s willing to spend in order to bring in draft talent. The $1.2 million the Trail Blazers reportedly sent to Orlando, along with a future second round pick, for the 47th pick is significantly less than what some other teams reportedly spent to get picks later in the second round.
Assuming Layman and the Trail Blazers can come to contract terms — second round picks can negotiate their contracts, while salaries for first round picks are dictated by where they’re taken — it seems likely that he would play for the Trail Blazers at the Las Vegas Summer League, which starts in mid-July.
UPDATE: It’s official. From the team’s press release…
“Jake is a high character young man with a skill set we value on both ends of the floor,” said Olshey. “His ability to defend multiple positions and shoot the ball from range will be positive additions to our roster.”
Orlando selected Layman with the 47th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. A four-year player out of the University of Maryland, Layman (6-9, 220) posted career averages of 10.2 points (44.5% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 75.9% FT), 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists for the Terrapins.
An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection his senior year, Layman led Maryland to 114 wins over his four seasons and is one of just 12 players in school history to record 1,400 points (1,436) and 600 rebounds (674). Layman, 22, guided Maryland to its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2003 last season, and ranks 18th in school history in points (1,436) and 18th in rebounds (674).
The 2016 NBA Draft is on Thursday, and as you’re probably well aware, the Trail Blazers do not currently own a pick in either round. Their first round pick, which ended up being the 19th selection, was sent to Denver as a part of the trade that brought in Arron Afflalo at the 2014 trade deadline. And their second round pick, which would have been the 48th selection, was sent to Cleveland — which Cleveland later traded to Chicago — as a part of the 2013 draft night trade that netted the Trail Blazers Allen Crabbe (by the way, I was the first person to tell AC he had been traded to Portland). Of course, just because the team doesn’t have a pick doesn’t mean they haven’t been preparing for Thursday’s draft for months, but as of today, the Trail Blazers are on the outside looking in.
Not that the Trail Blazers are alone in that. Portland is one of six teams this year that doesn’t have a first round pick in the 2016 Draft, which means there are numerous teams that have multiple first round picks. And according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Johnathan Givony on today’s The Vertical Podcast, therein lies the opportunity for a team like the Trail Blazers. The combination of teams, some of which that are necessarily looking to add a bunch of young players, owning multiple picks and the vastly different opinions teams have regarding players in this year’s class leads both Wojnarowski and Givony to believe there’s an opportunity for teams to get into the first round…
Adrian Wojnarowski: Every year there are plenty of trades, I think there will be even more this year, for a few reasons. One being, teams that we talked about — Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto has multiple picks, and Phoenix, Denver — they do not want to bring in a training camp full of kids. They can’t come out of this draft with three young players, most of these rosters aren’t built to do that. I think we’re going to see a lot of deals.
And there’s teams outside of the first round — Portland, Brooklyn, Houston — who, if the opportunity strikes, would like to get in. If there’s a player that they want who’s lingering there in the early 20s and they think they can get at him, then they potentially make a deal on draft night.
This is one, I think, especially with the multiple picks, I think you might agree, that we’re going to see a lot of movement. Teams jumping out, teams jumping in. The way the mock draft looks right now, I think it’s going to look very different Thursday night by 10 o’clock.
Jonathan Givony: Definitely. It’s two things we talked about. First of all, every team has this draft rated very, very differently and if there’s a player that a team has rated as a lottery pick and he starts sliding into the late teens, I think you’re going to see a team jump up and try to get him. If DeAnte Davis, if he starts sliding into the later part of the teens — if Henry Ellenson, if Skal (Labissiere), if (Ivica) Zubac. There’s so many big guys, that’s what’s interesting about this draft. There’s so many power forward/centers that think they’re going to go in the lottery and there aren’t enough spots for them because the NBA, their just not that interested in big men anymore…
I think that free agency is going to be in the back of everybody’s head, there’s so much new money coming in, everybody is going to have cap room. Like you said, they’re not looking to get kids. Kids aren’t getting you to the playoffs, kids aren’t winning you playoff games, and so they’re going to want to stay lean. That means not having three or four guys that you draft that you need to bring to training camp. So that’s where I think things are going to get real interesting and teams that are really aggressive are going to jump up and try and get some of these guys that slide down the board.
What it might take to acquire a pick in either round is anybody’s guess, but one thing you can be sure of is that a team owned by Paul Allen is going to be active on draft night — one needs to look back no further than to last year’s draft, where the Trail Blazers flipped their pick, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, to the Nets in exchange for Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton for proof of that. And Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has already vowed the team will be “aggressive” if any of the players they have on their wishlist become available, meaning that just because they enter Thursday’s draft without a pick doesn’t mean they’ll leave empty handed.